Quetzaltenango High Risk Court condemns the murderer of French citizen Benoit Maria

The Quetzaltenango High Risk Court sentenced Diego Tai Vicente to 12 years in prison for the murder of French national Benoit Maria in Quiche in August 2020.  (Free Press Photo: MynorTalk)

The Quetzaltenango High Risk Court sentenced Diego Tai Vicente to 12 years in prison for the murder of French national Benoit Maria in Quiche in August 2020. (Free Press Photo: MynorTalk)

The High Risk Court of Quetzaltenango sentenced Diego Tai Vicente to 12 years of irrevocable prison for the murder of French national Benoit Maria, an NGO director, on January 2, 2024. Agronomists and veterinarians without Borders in a community of Quiché in Guatemala in August 2020.

The Public Ministry had requested a 50-year prison sentence against Te Vicente. The investigating agency tried to prove that the accused had carried out an attack against Maria on August 10, 2020.

However, the court It was determined that the foreigner’s direct involvement in the crime was not proven, but it was His cooperation so that other people killed him.

Benoit was the director of Agronomists and Veterinarians Without Borders, an NGO operating in Quiche.

The French were hit by at least eleven bullets Pick-up truck traveling on a dirt road in Pacam village, San Antonio Ilotenango, Quiche.

Benoît Maria worked in the Ixil region and was director of Agronomists and Veterinarians Without Borders. Indigenous Mayan communities in Guatemala and agricultural projects have been supported in the country for more than two decades.

Maria also participated in the founding of the Ixil University in Quiché in 2011, dedicated to the ancestral knowledge of the indigenous people, among other projects.

in trial

A brother of the victim spoke before the court via teleconference from France, demanding justice and saying that to this day it is still unclear to him why his relative was murdered.

“They say they killed him because he didn’t pay for the passage,” the relative said at the trial, which began on December 11 last year.

In his defence, Diego Tai told the judges of the High Risk Court that he was innocent and did not know what led to the Frenchman’s death.

He admitted that during a raid on his home in September 2021, the National Civil Police found a firearm and that he cooperated with the authorities.

He declared himself innocent and said that his hands were clean. He said he understood the pain of French’s family and insisted on his innocence.


During arguments, the victim’s wife, Anna Isern, told the judges that days before the tragic incident her husband had told her that he disagreed with the payment and that he had a problem in the Packham community.

The Court concluded that charging a fee to broadcast through a community is illegal and noted that this practice arose during the pandemic in many communities across the country where neighbors and community leaders were in control.

Experts from the National Institute of Forensic Sciences (INACIF) testified that Maria died from injuries caused by shrapnel from a gun fired at the pickup truck she was driving. According to the investigation, the bullets, of which there were two, were fired while the vehicle was moving.

A witness, already protected from evidence, testified before the judge that at 7 a.m. on August 10, 2020, on the way to Packham, he saw a “Zebra Pikoop” roaming around (exotic Pikoop had stripes similar to this animal) which he identified as Was driving. By a “gringo”.

According to the story, minutes after seeing the car pass, they heard two gunshots. The court connected the testimony to the effects of the bullets that investigators found in the victim’s pickup truck.

In the second part of the statement, the witness mentioned that Cocod de Pacum, who was directed by Tai Vicente, had told the neighbors that if they saw a zebra car, they should give notice to be fined. He also said that after the death of “Gringo” it was known in the city that Tai Vicente and his brothers had committed the crime.

Another protected witness said he had witnessed illegal charges spread in the community by the Code de Packum. On a date close to French’s crime, witness saw the alien being restrained in a shop and taken to Packham School; “It was 6 p.m., he managed to negotiate a waiver and was on his way.”

The Public Ministry proved through a scientific analysis that minutes before the armed attack, Tai Vicente had communicated by telephone with other people who had been alerted to the presence of the French on the dirt road.

Maria’s widow Anna Isern said at the end of the hearing: “We agree with the sentence because we managed to keep him in prison for 12 years; But they have not done justice, we are demanding 50 years of prison for Benito’s life and dignified compensation, to which we still have a long way to go.

The convicted man’s lawyer, Alberto José, welcomed the sentence, saying that it had been proven that Te Vicente was not the author of the crime and the court determined that he was an accomplice. In the end, the Public Ministry charge did not proceed.

agricultural project leader

The murder of Benoit Maria occurred seven days after the indigenous authorities of Nebaj were informed of the decision of the Constitutional Court (CC), file 3883-2017, which granted him protection in favor of the Ixil Mayan people, which grants him this gives. Land ownership of Akul village, whose eviction was carried out by the state on December 9, 1983.

On August 11, 2020, French President Emmanuel Macron published on his social networks that “Benoît Maria has been leading agricultural projects to benefit indigenous Mayan communities for 20 years and helping them preserve their lands. Are. He was cowardly murdered yesterday. I salute your humanitarian, fraternal and helpful commitment that respects France.

After his death various organizations highlighted that Benoît Maria, for more than 20 years, “contributed to the diversification of small agricultural production, the dignity of farmers and the recovery of ancestral agricultural practices of indigenous peoples.”

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