Guatemala Ex-Dictator Heads for Genocide Trial
Montt accused of overseeing atrocities against Mayan civilians
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 29, 2013 12:03 AM CST
Guatemala's former strongman Efrain Rios Montt gestures next to his lawyers in a Guatemala City courtroom.   (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

(Newser) – A former US-backed dictator who presided over one of the bloodiest periods of Guatemala's civil war will stand trial on charges he ordered the murder, torture, and displacement of thousands of Mayan Indians, a judge has ruled. Human rights advocates have said that the prosecution of Jose Efrain Rios Montt would be an important symbolic victory for the victims of one of the most horrific of the conflicts that devastated Central America during the last decades of the Cold War.

The 86-year-old is the first former president to be charged with genocide by a Latin American court. Guatemala's leaders have been criticized for years for their inability or unwillingness to prosecute government forces and paramilitaries accused of marching into Mayan villages, carrying out rapes and torture, and slaughtering women, children, and unarmed men in a "scorched earth" campaign aimed at eliminating support for a left-wing guerrilla movement.

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Jan 29, 2013 8:58 AM CST
How about indicting and prosecuting the Pentagon Generals who conspired to murder civilians and trained and led the killings by proxy? The US led this horror and our CIA and special opps guys carried out the genocides. Where are these killers now? Find them and jail them. Our mercenary killers are not above the law. Another disgusting example of the American Experience.
Jan 29, 2013 7:37 AM CST
It's a shame this bastard has only a few years left to live. It would be nice if he was taken to every village that suffered atrocities under his regime and be beaten by every family member or descendant that had a relative murdered. But that's wishful thinking.
Jan 29, 2013 3:36 AM CST
A thousand deaths for this monster is not enough. Indigenous Rights!!!