News / Americas

Rios Montt's Lawyers Walk Out of Guatemala Genocide Trial

Guatemala's ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt sits alone at his table after being abandoned by his lawyers during the 20th day of his trial in the Supreme Court of Justice in Guatemala City, April 18, 2013.
Guatemala's ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt sits alone at his table after being abandoned by his lawyers during the 20th day of his trial in the Supreme Court of Justice in Guatemala City, April 18, 2013.
Reuters
A session in the genocide trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt ended abruptly on Thursday, as his lawyers tried to suspend proceedings over a legal technicality and stormed out, leaving him sitting alone in court.

Rios Montt, who ruled between 1982-83, was ordered to trial for genocide and crimes against humanity in January to answer for a counterinsurgency plan that killed more than 1,700 members of the Ixil indigenous group during Guatemala's long civil war.

The 86-year-old's lawyers contend that the judge who ordered the trial should not have presided over pre-trial hearings, but rather another judge, and are seeking to annul the proceedings.

"The debate must return to the [pre-trial] phase,'' defense lawyer Cesar Calderon said before walking out of the court. "We can't have two judicial processes at the same time. This trial must be annulled.''

That left Rios Montt sitting alone in the courtroom without legal counsel. He tried to reach his lawyers by telephone, but got no answer. Judge Yasmin Barrios suggested he appoint a public defender, before calling off the day's hearing and ordering both sides to reconvene on Friday.

Prosecutors dismissed the walkout by Rios Montt's lawyers.

"It's all a political show,'' attorney Hector Reyes told reporters. "What the defense team is showing is that they have no legal arguments to defend their client and that they have no way to prove his innocence.''

Prosecutors allege that Rios Montt, an army general before becoming head of a junta that ruled Guatemala, turned a blind eye during the country's civil war as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to rid Guatemala of leftist insurgents during the 1960-1996 civil war.

His defense team has argued Rios Montt had no control over battlefield operations and that genocide did not take place.

Barrios, who has presided over the trial with two other judges, said pre-trial proceedings should not be repeated and that evidence that was rejected during those initial hearings was reincorporated by her court during the trial.

"This court reiterates it has not violated any proceeding,'' she said. "The defense's evidence that was rejected can be reincorporated in this process ... which we have done. Returning the judicial process to previous phases would be illegal.''

Judge Patricia Flores, who originally charged Rios Montt with genocide and war crimes in January 2012, was recused from the process by defense attorneys last year and judge Miguel Angel Galvez took over pre-trial proceedings.

An appeals court later rejected the recusal of Flores and the defense team has said that she should be the judge to receive evidence instead of Galvez.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video Washington Week: Focus on Cuba, North Korea

President Obama, lawmakers out of town for holidays but many remain transfixed with US-Cuba thaw, Sony Pictures hack
More

Health Minister Named as Haiti's New Interim Prime Minister

Announcement is part of effort to resolve a mounting political crisis over long-delayed elections
More

Kerry: US-Cuba Thaw Will Advance Interests for Both

Secretary of state says 11 million people of Cuba have waited far too long - more than half a century - to 'fulfill their democratic aspirations' and build closer ties with rest of world
More

Cuba's Famed Cigars Get a Foot in Door of US Market

Under new rules to be implemented soon, US will make it easier for some Americans to travel to Cuba and they will be able to return with $100 worth of alcohol, tobacco
More

Tourism, Farm Groups See Bigger Business With Cuba

'We are the closest major food producer that Cuba has,' an American Farm Bureau Federation spokesman notes
More

Castro Lauds US Outreach, Says Cuba to Remain Communist

In speech to lawmakers, Cuba's president says economic reforms will be accelerated, yet changes will be gradual
More