Ex-Dictator's Genocide Conviction Overturned

Guatemala court orders weeks of Montt trial to be redone

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 21, 2013 2:38 AM CDT

(Newser) – Guatemala's highest court has chucked out the historic genocide conviction of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt. The court overturned the conviction—which brought an 80-year sentence for the 86-year-old former military strongman—and ordered for his trial to be rewound to April 19, when there was a dispute between two judges, the BBC reports.

Montt, the first former leader to be found guilty of genocide by a tribunal in his own country, was found guilty of ordering the deaths of 1,700 Ixil Maya in the early 1980s, but weeks of his trial, including harrowing testimony from survivors, will now have to be redone, the Los Angeles Times reports. Montt, who maintains his innocence, is now expected to leave the military hospital where he is being held to return home under house arrest.

Guatemala's former dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt sits in the courtroom before the judge reads the verdict during his genocide trial in Guatemala City earlier this month.
Guatemala's former dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt sits in the courtroom before the judge reads the verdict during his genocide trial in Guatemala City earlier this month.   (AP Photo/Moises Castilo)
Guatemala's former dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt wears headphones as he listens to the verdict in his genocide trial earlier this month.
Guatemala's former dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt wears headphones as he listens to the verdict in his genocide trial earlier this month.   (AP Photo/Moises Castillo, File)
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