Posts Tagged ‘Efraín Ríos Montt’

Guatemala Genocide Trial Must Resume, Say Woman Human Rights Leaders

May 2, 2013

A coalition of seven female Nobel Prize winners, including Dr. Rigoberta Menchú Tum of Guatemala, called April 25 for the trial of former dictator Efraín Rios Montt to proceed. Montt was indicted in January for genocide and crimes against humanity, including widespread rape. The trial in Guatemala City was suspended last week mere days before observers expected it to conclude when a lower court judge on April 18 unexpectedly issued a ruling on a legal technicality. Guatemala’s attorney general has called the ruling illegal. The trial marks the first time a head of state has been tried for genocide by his own country’s justice system. Rios Montt is accused of ordering the killings of over 1,700 Ixil Maya people in 1982 and 1983, when he was army general and de-facto president of Guatemala. Read the rest of this entry »

Guatemalan General accused of genocide and Granito film images help to nail him

January 29, 2012

The ex-dictator of Guatemala, General Efraín Ríos Montt, has to face charges of genocide in a Guatemalan court and was placed under house arrest. The culmination of decades of work by human rights advocates, forensic scientists and survivors of the Guatemalan genocide forced former dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt to appear in court Thursday after 30 years of impunity, for a hearing to decide whether there was enough evidence to take him to trial on charges of genocide.  This was a major event in Guatemala with hundreds of Maya people coming down from the highlands to gather in front of the courthouse, holding a candle vigil for the their murdered family members.

The prosecution spent hours presenting overwhelming evidence in the form of military documents,  exhumation reports, photos and footage from the film Granito: How To Nail A Dictator, linking Ríos Montt directly to hundreds of deaths and disappearances. Surviving family members, Ixil Maya in traditional dress, crowded the standing room only courtroom in stunned silence. Some wept. Outside the courthouse, in an open area now named Human Rights Plaza, hundreds more watched the proceedings on a huge screen. I reported in an earlier post on the film Granito: How To Nail A Dictator which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival. (The defense argued that Ríos Montt did not have command responsibility over his Army officers in the highlands, and that he was not responsible for the massacres.  This is belied by a clip from Granito that the prosecution and the Guatemalan media used to show the general taking command responsibility, saying that “If I don’t control the army, then who does?”)

Judge Carol Patricia Flores deliberated for hours and returned her decision to prosecute Ríos Montt on charges of genocide, place him under house arrest, and set bail for USD $65,000. People hugged, cheered and set off firecrackers outside when the Judge read her decision stating that “the extermination of the civilian population was the result of military plans, and that these plans were executed under the command of Ríos Montt.”