World Bulletin/News Desk
Former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt returned to court Monday to stand trial for genocide.
Ríos Montt faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in ordering the deaths of 1,771 Indigenous Maya Ixil people while he ruled the country between 1982 and 1983 following a military coup. Former military intelligence director José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez faces the same charges.
An estimated 200,000 people were killed or disappeared during the Guatemalan armed conflict, which lasted from 1960 to 1996.
The state was responsible for more than 90 percent of human rights violations, including massacres and torture, during the conflict, according to the United Nations sponsored Historical Clarification Commission,
Monday marks the second time the former dictator stands trial for genocide. On May 10, 2013, Ríos Montt was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to 80 years in prison. Rodríguez Sánchez was acquitted.
Ten days later, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala overturned the conviction for procedural reasons and ordered a retrial.
The case against Ríos Montt advanced while Claudia Paz y Paz was Attorney General of Guatemala. She no longer holds the office, but hopes the trial will cause to a domino effect in the region.
“In Latin America, what happens in one country can influence the others,” Paz y Paz told reporters Monday at a press conference in Madrid. The prosecution of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, and ex-military junta commanders in Argentina, all have had a broader impact in the region, she said.
Ríos Montt did not appear in court Monday where the hearing was set to begin. His defense team presented a request for the retired general to be tried in absentia, alleging serious health problems.
The hearing was initially delayed two hours becasue the original case file had not been transferred from another court. But as the court reconvened, Judge Janeth Valdéz denied the defense’s request and ordered the National Police Director to bring the defendant to the courtroom by 1 p.m.
Ríos Montt was transported to the tribunal in an ambulance and carried into the courtroom on a cot, accompanied by his doctor - a move viewed by some as a spectacle, not due to any real debilitating health condition.
Witnesses to the massacres carried out in the Ixil region during Ríos Montt’s rule iwill once again present their testimonies to the court in the coming weeks.
Last Mod: 05 Ocak 2015, 23:45