A former police officer of the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989) in Paraguay was sentenced yesterday Tuesday to serve 30 years in prison, however, he will not be sent to prison, because of his advanced age, at the end of one of the few trials for the crimes committed in stone years of the junta in the Latin American state.

Eusebio Torres, 87, was convicted after an eight-day trial in an Asuncion court of torturing prisoners in 1976 who were dissidents or alleged dissidents. The political prisoners called him “The Whip” among themselves because that was the tool he preferred when he “interrogated” them.

“It has been proven that Eusebio Torres Romero subjected the brothers Carlos Ernesto and Luis Alberto Casco, as well as the former’s wife (now deceased) Teresa Dejesus Aguilera de Casco to all kinds of torture,” Judge Manuel Aguirre summarized.

“All those who were considered (…) opponents of the dictatorial regime were tortured, all over the country,” the judge added while reciting his verdict. “Torres directed the interrogations of prisoners in the police investigation department” as “he was the only police officer with a law degree.”

Eusebio Torres participated in the trial digitally, from his home in Asuncion. His previous conviction in 2007 for other crimes was commuted to house arrest as he was already advanced in age. He will not be sent to prison.

Still, the victims and their relatives — some 20 testified at the trial — were overjoyed at the verdict.

“We did not expect this exemplary conviction. Justice was served,” said Carlos Casco, one of the applicants, with tears in his eyes.

Eusebio Torres pleaded not guilty and claimed that the eyewitnesses, 49 years after their torture, were “mistaking him” for someone else, they were “confused”. “They confuse me with others”, this justifies “my calmness” and “my honor and reputation” will not be eaten, he said.

The toll of the victims of General Stroessner’s regime in 35 years is 59 extrajudicial executions, 336 disappearances, almost 20,000 illegal imprisonments and some 19,000 cases of torture. In other words, since Paraguay is a country with a small population size, “one resident in 133” became a victim, the Truth and Justice Commission pointed out in its 2008 report.

However, criminal prosecutions in the post-colonial period were rare. Only about ten police officers were tried for torture. As for the dictator Stroessner himself, convicted in absentia, he died quietly in 2006, aged 93, in his golden exile in Brazil.

Many victims complained on the sidelines of the trial that there was apparently a concerted effort to protect the people of the dictatorship. After all, the Colorado party (right), to which the dictator belonged, remains dominant in the Paraguayan political scene.