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