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3 Convicted in Guatemala Rape Trial

February 9, 1999

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) _ A Guatemalan court on Monday convicted three men of rape and aggravated robbery for an attack last year on a group of visiting American students.

Judge Elmer Rolando Espina Figueroa sentenced each defendant to 28 years in prison _ 18 years for rape and 10 years for robbery. The sentences will be served consecutively.

Defense lawyer Salvador Hererra said he would appeal the convictions.

Thirteen students and three faculty members from St. Mary’s College of Maryland were robbed and five women were raped when the bus they were traveling in was pulled over at gunpoint on Jan. 16, 1998, near Santa Lucia, 60 miles southwest of Guatemala City.

The men convicted were Cosby Gamaliel Urias, 38, Rony Leonel Polanco Sil, 29, and Reyes Guch Ventura, 25. All had pleaded innocent.

The trial opened Jan. 20 in the city of Escuintla, 30 miles south of the capital. After a short recess, the trial restarted on Friday. A verdict had not been expected until March.

Authorities announced on Friday they had captured another suspect in the attack, Miguel Angel Salvador Hernandes Torres, who was arrested on Jan. 28. Three other men are still being sought on suspicion of having participated in the attack.

At least seven students identified Gamaliel Urias from photos shown them in the United States, and said he had taken part in both the robbery and the rapes. The victims said the other defendants did not participate in the rapes, but prosecutors said they were still criminally liable.

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