This news about Rios Montt being found guilty in Guatemala does not offer relief from the suffering of thousands of victims that died at the indirect hands of Rios Montt and many others. The Guatemala Civil war while over still remains in the minds and heart of all Guatemalan’s
Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt was found guilty of the genocide of more than 1,700 indigenous Ixil Mayans during his 1982-83 rule. Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, who has said that there was no genocide during the civil war, reiterated his position following the verdict.
A three-judge panel issued the verdict Friday, one day after the conclusion of the trial. The court sentenced Rios Montt, 86, to 80 years in prison.
The trial marked the first time a head of state has been tried for genocide by his country’s own judicial system.
Yassmin Barrios, the tribunal’s president, read a lengthy review of how the judges reached their verdict before announcing it. The dozens of Ixil witnesses proved that the military killed, tortured and raped the indigenous population. As de facto president, Rios Montt knew atrocities were being committed and did nothing to stop it, Barrios said.
Rios Montt’s co-defendant and intelligence chief, Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, was absolved.
The court ordered the former leader go straight to prison, revoking his house arrest.
A conclusion of the trial seemed in doubt in the past weeks, as the defense filed multiple challenges in several courts. At one point, one judge annulled the testimony in the trial before it got back on track.
The landmark criminal trial could open the doors for future charges against military officials accused of atrocities during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war. The war did not end until 1996, leaving more than 200,000 people dead and 1 million as refugees.
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