San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemala court upholds genocide trial for ex-dictator Ríos Montt

GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemala’s highest court has rejected an amnesty appeal by former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, who faces charges of genocide in the deaths of thousands of indigenous people during his regime in the 1980s, sources said on Wednesday.

The country’s highest court, the Court of Constitutionality, rejected Ríos Montt’s legal bid to have the court case against him thrown out.

In doing so, it “upholds an earlier ruling by country’s Supreme Court,” which already had rejected his amnesty appeal, according to the source, who is one of the litigants in the case. The source said the high court ruling was issued on Tuesday.

The decision to put Ríos Montt on trial will mark the first time genocide proceedings have been brought over the 36-year civil war in Guatemala that ended in 1996, leaving an estimated 200,000 people dead, according to the United Nations. He was in power from 1982-1983.

Defense attorneys have said that the former president never knew the army was committing massacres during his administration.

Due to stand trial along with Ríos Montt is retired Gen. José Rodríguez, a former member of the military leadership.

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