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Ex-Dictator Is Ordered to Trial in Guatemalan War Crimes Case


World  (tags: 'CIVILLIBERTIES!', 'HUMANRIGHTS!', conflict, death, ethics, freedoms, government, GoodNews, HumanRights, humanrights, politics, society, violence, world )

JL
- 659 days ago - nytimes.com
A Guatemalan judge on Monday ordered Efraín Rios Montt, the former dictator, and his intelligence chief to stand trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in connection with the massacres of villagers in remote highlands three decades ago.



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JL A. (272)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 12:41 pm
January 28, 2013
Ex-Dictator Is Ordered to Trial in Guatemalan War Crimes Case
By ELISABETH MALKIN

MEXICO CITY — A Guatemalan judge on Monday ordered Efraín Rios Montt, the former dictator, and his intelligence chief to stand trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in connection with the massacres of villagers in remote highlands three decades ago.

The ruling clears the way for a public trial for Mr. Rios Montt, a former general who ruled Guatemala for 17 months in 1982 and 1983 during the bloodiest period of the country’s long-running civil war. It is a stunning decision for Guatemala, where the military still wields significant power behind the scenes and the country’s elected governments have struggled to build democratic institutions.

“The principle function of the state and its officials is to protect its citizens,” said Judge Miguel Angel Gálvez before finding that there was sufficient evidence to try Mr. Rios Montt, 86, and another former general, José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez.

The two are accused because they had final command over troops that killed 1,771 people in the Mayan-Ixil region as soldiers carried out a scorched-earth campaign to hunt down left-wing guerrillas.

In a telephone interview after the judge’s ruling was announced, the prosecutor, Orlando López, said that all the evidence the attorney general’s office had submitted, including the testimony of 140 witnesses and internal military documents from the time, was enough to ensure that a trial would go ahead.

“Legally, we were certain,” Mr. López said. “But politically we considered that it would be difficult because of the circumstances, with a former military man in the government.”

President Otto Pérez Molina is a former general who has said he does not believe that the killings during the war amounted to genocide.

A United Nations truth commission determined that the military had carried out “acts of genocide,” including in the Mayan-Ixil villages during the war, in which 200,000 people died.

Mr. Rios Montt’s defense lawyer, Danilo Rodríguez, argued in court last week that his client never signed orders to eliminate the Ixil Indians or identified them as an internal enemy.

“After the truth commission, people said it was not enough, this is a compromise, justice is being crippled,” said Almudena Bernabeu, a lawyer with the Center for Justice and Accountability in San Francisco, who has worked with victims’ groups to bring a case under Spain’s universal jurisdiction rule.

Cases brought by survivors’ groups against Mr. Rios Montt and the top military leadership had been stalled in the country’s weak judicial system for more than a decade.

“For Rios Montt to be tried breaks the wall of impunity,” said Victoria Sanford, an anthropology professor at the City University of New York who has written about Guatemala’s civil war. “It says genocide is genocide and it is punishable by law.”

As a legislator until last January, Mr. Rios Montt was protected from prosecution. Prosecutors filed charges when his term expired, but his lawyers’ appeals delayed the case.

Scholars of Guatemala said that a number of factors combined to get the case to court, including the tenacity of the attorney general, Claudia Paz y Paz, and successful efforts to appoint more independent judges.

Anita Isaacs, a political scientist at Haverford College who studies Guatemala’s attempts to deal with its war crimes, also suggested that the military itself might have changed its stance on Mr. Rios Montt’s case. “There was a hope that if he could be brought to trial, this could be the end of the armed conflict,” she said.
 

Kit B. (276)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 2:20 pm

Make a real spectacle of him, turn him and his cohorts over to The Hague. Let the world know what happens to those who brutalize, torture and kill thousands of their own citizens.
 

JL A. (272)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 2:34 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.
 

Angelika R. (144)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 3:43 pm
Exactly my thought, bravo Kit! and thx JL- yep, they'll get em all, sooner or later-or even much later !
 

Angelika R. (144)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 3:44 pm
If he doesn't get assassinated first -( Chomsky suggested this recently) B al Assad will be next!
 

JL A. (272)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 3:59 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Angelika because you have done so within the last week.
 

Terry V. (30)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 4:57 pm
DEMENTED ENTITIES
 

JL A. (272)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 4:59 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Terry because you have done so within the last week.
 

Bob P. (425)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 11:18 am
thanks for the info
 

JL A. (272)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 1:31 pm
You're welcome Bob
 

Aurea Walker (211)
Friday February 1, 2013, 4:43 pm
First and foremost find the money he stole from his country and give the money to the families of those who were murdered. The Hague is WAY TO GOOD for this "hijo de la chingada". Put him in Guatemala jail and make him WORK for once in his life. He will not last a year.
 

JL A. (272)
Friday February 1, 2013, 6:02 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Aurea because you have done so within the last week.
 

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (80)
Saturday February 2, 2013, 2:57 am
About Efraín Rios Montt, the former dictator, & the charges against him:

Last September (2012), I posted the Democracy Now! program on the then-new documentary film "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator", that "links Guatemala’s turbulent past with those who are active players in its present. The film, "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator," which is part political thriller and part memoir, spans four decades, following several people as they search for the details that can be used to hold accountable those responsible for the genocide in which Guatemalan military and paramilitary soldiers killed more than 200,000 people. The film documents the movement by Mayans to seek justice, featuring Nobel Prize winner and indigenous Guatemalan activist, Rigoberta Menchú, who is challenging Pérez in the presidential election. Speaking on the program are the film’s director, Pamela Yates, and Fredy Peccerelli, director of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation. The film documents his team’s work to unearth mass graves in a search for those killed by the military, even as he faces threats from clandestine groups that want the truth to stay buried. I urge everybody to WATCH the DN! program, "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator": New Film Tracks Mayans' Struggle for Justice After Guatemalan Genocide, which contains numerous clips from this award-winning documentary)


Two excerpts from your post that I would like to add to:

1) "President Otto Pérez Molina is a former general who has said he does not believe that the killings during the war amounted to genocide. "

2) "A United Nations truth commission determined that the military had carried out “acts of genocide,” including in the Mayan-Ixil villages during the war, in which 200,000 people died. "

Re n° 1: Otto Perez Molina is also a former high ranking military man who rose in his career during the same period when the Mayan genocide was being carried out; he too has responsibility for it and yet he ends up winning the election!

In Sept 2011, towards the end of the Guatemalan election campaign, I posted the following- Genocide-Linked General Otto Pérez Molina Poised to Become Guatemala's Next President: DN! discusses the election & its implications with human rights attorney Jennifer Harbury, who has first hand knowledge of Guatemala during the so-called civil war aka the govt's & the military's war against the poor Mayan peasants in the rural highlands.

Re n° 2: The United Nations truth commission report (mentioned in the posted article) found that of the more than 200,000 Guatemalans killed or forcibly disappeared during the 1960-1996 civil war "83% were indigenous Maya, & 93% of these human rights violations were carried out by government forces."

The UN report findings were similar in all points to those of the OTHER investigation into human rights abuses during the 40-year civil war - that of the Guatemalan Catholic Church's "Recovery of Historical Memory" project (REMHI). The REMHI project was created & carried out under the auspices of a crusading human rights priest, Bishop Juan Gerardi.

In April 1998, Bishop Juan Gerardi presented 'Guatemala: Nunca Más' (Guatemala: Never Again), the four-volume REMHI report.

Two days after the release of the report, Bishop Gerardi was found bludgeoned to death in the garage of his home.

While investigating Bishop Gerardi's murder for his book, "The Art of Political Murder - Who Killed the Bishop?", author Francisco Goldman found sources who told him that on the night of the murder, Pérez Molina was hanging out in a convenience store near Gerardi's church with a few conspirators in Gerardi's murder.
 

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (80)
Saturday February 2, 2013, 3:14 am
MISTAKE: The DN! program on "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator" was Sept 2011, not 2012

I forgot to mention & the NYTimes omits the facts of US complicity in Guatemalan civil war: The perpetrators of this genocide - all the dictators, military or not, supported by the US from the 1950s on, and, the US-funded Guatemalan army, all of whose officers, from the highest level down, were trained at the US School of the Americas (renamed in 2001 the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation [WHINSEC]), aka 'the School of Assassins', 'the School of Dictators', and 'the Nursery of Death Squads', as it is known in Central and South America.
 

JL A. (272)
Saturday February 2, 2013, 7:56 am
Thanks ever so much PeasantDiva for helping all of us remember the history related to this story and the inter-country support dynamics that contributed to these horrific events. Unfortunately I'm told: You cannot currently send a star to PeasantDiva because you have done so within the last week.
 
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