The Bitkov family needs your help. Igor, Irina and Anastasia Bitkov have experienced a shocking miscarriage of justice in Guatemala. In 2009, they fled persecution in Russia and came to Guatemala where they hired a local law firm to help them apply for citizenship. It turned out that there were anomalies in the official documents issued to the Bitkovs by the Guatemalan authorities. For possessing these documents Igor received a 19-year sentence (reduced to 7 years after a re-trial). Irina and Anastasia were given 14-year sentences. The Appeals Court recently upheld Irina’s and Anastasia’s sentences.
The Bitkovs are victims of corrupt practices in Russia that have been exported to Guatemala. There is clear evidence showing that the Russian state has interfered with the judicial system in Guatemala to have them convicted. The Bitkovs have been unable to assert their rights since the investigators and judges are part of a mafia system intent on covering up its own crimes. The Bitkovs have bravely investigated and made public many acts of corruption in Guatemala implicating their persecutors.
In response to evidence presented at a hearing of The U.S. Helsinki Commission in Washington D.C. in April 2018, members of the Commission expressed outrage at the treatment of the Bitkovs. The hearing led to the suspension of U.S. financing to the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). This UN-sponsored body supported by several western governments had abused its powers and violated Guatemalan law by acting as a co-prosecutor of the Bitkovs.
Since the end of CICIG’s mandate in September last year, the Anti-Impunity Unit (FECI) in the Attorney General’s Office has continued the persecution of the Bitkovs. The Head of FECI, Juan Francisco Sandoval, and a group of friendly judges are the protectors of a transnational crime ring that includes high-level public officials. As part of their legal defense, the Bitkov family has made several official complaints about this criminal group, including against Juan Francisco Sandoval, Judge Erika Aifan and other officials. They have done so at considerable personal risk. A key witness in the case against Juan Francisco Sandoval was recently shot dead.
Guatemala’s National Commission Against Torture found Judge Erika Aifan guilty of torturing Igor Bitkov for violation of the rules of treatment of prisoners and for abuse of preventive prison. She illegally sent the Bitkovs to trial even though the Constitutional Court had determined that as migrants fleeing persecution, they were not criminally liable for documents offences.
Please help the Bitkovs to achieve justice.