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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Audit Finds US Housing Aid Program in Haiti Falls Short

Results show post-earthquake USAID program has delivered only a quarter of planned number of homes at nearly twice the budgeted cost
More

Mourning, Memories in Garcia Marquez's Languid Hometown

Nobel Prize-winning author's early years in Aracataca inspired characters, tales for major novel
More

Powerful Earthquake Rattles Mexico

US Geological Survey says quake measuring 7.5 on Richter scale, was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of Acapulco beach resort
More

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support
More

Colombian Novelist Garcia Marquez Dies at 87

Author of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982
More

Salsa Legend Cheo Feliciano Dies in Car Crash

Police say singer was alone in his jaguar when he hit a post before sunrise Thursday
More