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Guatemala arrests five officials linked to the deaths of 41 girls

Catches occur as a result of fire investigations in a shelter for the protection of child victims of abandonment or crime.
Catches occur as a result of fire investigations in a shelter for the protection of child victims of abandonment or crime.
Guatemalan authorities on Monday captured five civil servants, including two policemen, for a fire at a shelter for children that left 41 girls dead three months ago, prosecutors said.

The five public employees face charges for crimes such as homicide, abuse of authority, mistreatment of minors and noncompliance with duties, prosecutor Julia Barrera told reporters.

The head of the Office of the Procurator for Children and Adolescents, the head of the Department of Special Protection against Maltreatment, and the defender of Childhood and Adolescence, were arrested.

Barrera said that the catches are given as a result of investigations into the fire in a shelter intended for the protection of children who are victims of abandonment or of a crime .

On March 8, a fire was recorded in the Virgen de la Asunción Safe Home, located in the municipality of San José Pinula, adjacent to Guatemala City.

According to preliminary reports, girls locked up in a room started the fire to report sexual abuse, poor food and abuse in that center.

During the fire, 19 inmates died, while 21 others died in hospitals to which they had been transferred. The victim 41 died in a hospital in the United States on March 27.

Another 17 children were burned and nine were moved to specialized hospitals in the United States.

For this fire, the ex-president of the Secretariat of Social Welfare of the Presidency (SBS) was arrested, in charge of the juvenile center, the exsubtitular of that entity, and the director of the refuge.

On April 7, a judge ordered to open the criminal proceedings against the three former SBS officials for the crimes of manslaughter, abuse of authority, breach of duties, abuse of minors, and serious injuries.

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