Genocide trial of Guatemalan ex-dictator to resume

May 1, 2013

GUATEMALA CITY – A Guatemalan court decided Tuesday to resume the genocide trial against former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt this week, 11 days after it was suspended for technical reasons, angering rights groups.

The proceedings against Ríos Montt, who is accused of being behind the massacre of indigenous people during the country’s civil war in the 1980s, will continue on Thursday, said court president Jazmín Barrios.

The trial had been suspended by another judge on April 19 over procedural matters.

Relatives of victims and rights groups held several protests to denounce the suspension of a trial that had already heard 150 witnesses and experts detailing the horrors committed during Ríos Montt’s rule in 1982 and 1983.

The 86-year-old retired general, who insists he was not aware the army was committing massacres, is accused of ordering the execution of 1,771 members of the Ixil Maya people in the Quiché region.

Ríos Montt, who is under house arrest, could face five decades behind bars if convicted.

The Ixil Maya massacre was one of the darkest chapters in the 36-year civil war, which pitted leftist guerrillas against government forces until 1996, leaving some 200,000 dead or “disappeared,” according to the United Nations.

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