or from asking the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to extend provisional measures on
his behalf.
7. On December 7, 2000 the petitioners again requested the Commission to grant
precautionary measures on behalf of the alleged victim; this was because all the ordinary
remedies offered by domestic law had been exhausted and the authorities were close to
setting a date for the execution.
8. On May 3, 2001 the Commission began processing the petition; it forwarded the relevant
parts of the complaint to the Guatemalan State and, pursuant to Article 30 of its Rules of
Procedure, asked it to submit its response within a period of two months. The State sent its
comments on July 11, 2001, asking the IACHR to declare the case inadmissible and to refrain
from extending precautionary measures on Mr. Ramirez’s behalf.
9. On October 3, 2001 the Commission forwarded the relevant parts of the State’s reply to the
petitioners and asked them to submit their comments within the following 30 days. On
November 12, the petitioners presented their comments on the Government’s report, in which
they once again asked the Commission to adopt precautionary measures and to continue with
its processing of this case.
10. Finally, the petitioners submitted a new report, elaborating on the comments made on
November 12, 2001.
III.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

A.

Petitioners

Regarding the Facts
11. The petitioners maintain that the death sentence handed down to Mr. Fermín Ramírez at a
trial that failed to respect several of the minimum guarantees enshrined in Article 8; as a
result, in the petitioners’ opinion, the imposition of the sentence violates Article 4 of the
American Convention.
12. First of all, the petitioners told the IACHR that in this case, the Guatemalan public
prosecution service (MP) initially charged the accused with the crime of aggravated rape, to
which, under that country’s criminal law, the death penalty does not apply if the victim is at
least 10 years of age.2 The petitioners claim that the trial commencement papers also cited the
charge of aggravated rape and that the entire proceedings were conducted with respect to that
crime. They note that irrespective of this, in its judgment the court classified the incident as
murder and, in light of the “dangerous nature” of the alleged victim, handed down the
maximum sentence. The petitioners report that during the hearings phase, the court told the
parties about a possible change in the legal classification of the incident, under a legal
mechanism provided for by Guatemala’s criminal procedure,3 and that the public prosecution
service, in its final conclusions, sought to have the crime legally classified as murder.
13. The petitioners thus claim that the judgment changed the facts on which the indictment
and the hearings were based and that the accused was not given the opportunity to be heard
2

Article 175 of Guatemala’s Criminal Code states that:
Should the victim die by reason of or as a result of the rape, a prison term of between 30 and 50 years shall be
imposed. The death penalty shall apply if the victim was aged under ten years.
3
Article 388 of the Code of Criminal Procedure states that:
The judgment may not uphold facts or circumstances other than those described in the indictment and the trial
commencement papers or, when applicable, in the expanded indictment, except when favorable to the accused.
In the judgment, the court may give the facts a different legal classification from the one given in the indictment or
the trial commencement papers, or it may impose punishments more or less severe than the ones sought by the
public prosecution service.”
2

Select target paragraph3