Volume 3, Issue 10, (Originally Published on Monday 13 May 2013)
Despite setbacks and government interventions during the trial, newswires confirmed late last week that the 86-year-old former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt had been convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to 80 years in prison.
His conviction marks the first time ever in modern history that a national leader has been convicted of human rights abuses in a domestic court. (Historical examples include British King Charles I’s and French King Louis XVI’s conviction and beheading for ‘human rights’ abuses.)
The charges laid against the former head of state, who came to power in 1982 in a US-backed coup, focused on the organised campaign launched against the indigenous Ixil people, who the Guatemalan government believed had been supporting a leftist rebellion.
Montt, who former US President Ronald Reagan said was ‘a man of great personal integrity’, faced accusations that under his leadership the Guatemalan forces killed at least 1,771 Mayan Ixils.
Montt’s defence attorneys have reportedly stated that they would appeal the conviction.
Dean R. P. Edwards