José Efraín Ríos Montt, the Guatemalan octogenarian/general/Congressman/dictator whose rule was partially supported by the United States, has been convicted of ordering the deaths of thousands of Mayans during the country's 36-year-long civil war. He is the first Latin American ex-leader to stand trial for -- and now, be convicted of -- genocide, and the first ex-leader in the world to be convicted of genocide in his own country.
Ríos Montt ruled from 1982-3. He overthrew one leader only to be overthrown, in turn, by another. Despite his brief time in office, he ordered his troops to rape, torture, and murder thousands of indigenous Mayans. At least 1700 died during his rule. Over 200,000 people died over the course of the civil war.
Bringing him to justice has not been easy, as this AP timeline shows. The civil war ended in 1996, but it took another decade and a half before former generals were charged with war crimes. Ríos Montt was not charged at the time, as he was then a congressman and thus immune from prosecution. As soon as his term ended in January 2012, he was charged. From then until now, his lawyers have tried to delay the trial, possibly in the hopes that the 86-year-old would simply die before he had to face a court.
Guilty of Genocide. Judge Yassmin Barrios delivers verdict in the case of José Efraín Ríos Montt. In otras palabras, "Sí hubo genocidio."— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) May 10, 2013
Judge: Rios Montt guilty also of the charge of crimes against humanity.— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) May 10, 2013
Along with the sentence:
Rios Montt sentenced to 50 years in prison for genocide, and an additional 30 years for crimes against humanity.— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) May 10, 2013
House arrest for Rios Montt, 86, has been revoked. He is ordered to be taken directly to prison. For 80 years.— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) May 10, 2013
And the end:
Ríos Montt has left the building in the hands of the police, who have orders to take him directly to prison.— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) May 11, 2013
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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