A judge in Guatemala on Monday ordered the trial of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt for genocide in the killings of more than 1,750 indigenous people during his 1982-83 regime.
The 86-year-old Rios Montt sat stoically as Judge Miguel Galvez ordered the opening of a trial “for the crimes of genocide” and crimes against humanity, while relatives of victims lit firecrackers outside the Supreme Court.
The landmark decision marks the first time that genocide proceedings have been brought in the Central American country over the 36-year civil war that ended in 1996, leaving an estimated 200,000 people dead, according to the UN.
“There are serious bases on which to put him on oral and public trial for his alleged participation in the crimes attributed to him,” Galvez said in a small courtroom packed with relatives of victims and rights activists as well as retired soldiers who back Rios Montt.
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