Guatemala court orders ex-dictator to stand trial

[JURIST] Guatemalan Judge Carol Flores ruled Thursday that ex-dictator Rios Montt must stand trial for charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The judge heard the prosecutor's initial statements Wednesday and decided Thursday that the evidence was sufficient to go to trial. Montt is being charged for crimes committed throughout the country's 36-year civil war [BBC timeline], which officially ended in 1996. Montt was a general in the military who became dictator after a coup in 1982 but lost power a year later as a result of another coup. His charges are based on 72 incidents that caused 1,771 deaths under Montt's military command. Judicial officials decided Saturday that Montt will be forced to testify [JURIST report] at his trial.

The Guatemalan Civil War resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, 95 percent of which the military was responsible for according to a UN report [text, in Spanish]. The majority of those who were killed were part of Guatemala's indigenous Mayan population. Two former police officers [JURIST report] and four former soldiers [JURIST report] were convicted in 2010 and 2011 of charges relating to these crimes. Spain attempted to charge Montt [JURIST report] with war crimes in 2008, but failed because it lacked jurisdiction over the case. Montt had ignored warrants [JURIST report] put out by Spain for his arrest in 2006 because he claimed he was not aware of any crimes committed by his men during the war.

 

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