Guatemala ex-dictator to be tried for genocide
Guatemala City: A Guatemalan judge on Monday ordered the trial of ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt for the genocide of the country’s indigenous populations during his 1982-83 regime.
The landmark decision marks the first time that genocide proceedings have been brought in the country over the 36-year civil war that ended in 1996, leaving an estimated 200,000 people dead, according to the UN.
Judge Miguel Galvez issued the order “opening the trial against Jose Efrain Rios Montt for the crimes of genocide” and crimes against humanity.
The 86-year-old former dictator, who has been under house arrest for a year, is accused of orchestrating the massacre of more than 1,750 indigenous Ixil Maya people in Quiche department during his time in power.
The former general is known for his “scorched earth” campaign against people the government claimed were leftist rebels yet were often in fact members of indigenous Maya communities who were not involved in the conflict.
Rios Montt, dressed in a gray suit, arrived on time for the hearing. Upon his entry into the courtroom, a small group of retired military men saluted him.
Outside the courthouse in the center of Guatemala City, a group of relatives of victims set up a makeshift altar, where they placed flowers and other offerings, and burned incense.
Indigenous Maya communities make up a majority of the population in rural Guatemala.
Source – Thenewstribe