By Stephen Gibbs
Central America correspondent, BBC News
Work to find the victims of the war goes on
A retired colonel in the Guatemalan army has been sentenced to 53 years in prison for crimes committed during the country's civil war.
Col Marco Antonio Sanchez's conviction is the first against an army officer since the war ended.
It spanned 36 years and led to the deaths of at least 200,000 people.
Col Sanchez was found guilty of being responsible for the forced disappearance of eight farm workers in what is being seen as a test case.
Families of the victims expressed relief that so long after their relatives had disappeared without trace, justice had been served.
Human Rights groups say they hope this trial will open the way to many others.
The Guatemalan civil war, which pitted the ruling army against left wing insurgents, was the longest and most brutal in modern Latin American history.
Apart from the known victims, 45,000 people disappeared.
It is assumed they were murdered; their bodies have never been found.
In the late 1990s a UN-sponsored truth commission concluded that the army was responsible for more than 80% of the atrocities committed during the war.
Guatemala's military governments were, to varying degrees, backed by the United States government.
The US ambassador attended the closing days of this trial, in a move designed to show support for the victims' families.