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Peace Laureate Says She Fears for Witnesses in Guatemala Genocide Trial

Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu has called on a representative of a Guatemalan veterans' association to cease what she said were threats against witnesses in a trial against several former military officers.

Menchu, an indigenous human rights activist who helped bring the lawsuit, said this week that she fears for the lives of those witnesses. They are testifying against former officers accused of genocide, torture, and murder during Guatemala's decades-long civil war that ended in 1996.

A member of the Guatemalan Association of Military Veterans, Ret. Gen. Jose Luis Quilo Ayuso, has announced participation in the trial by witnesses could lead to tragedy.

A Spanish judge is in Guatemala to hear testimony. Spanish law allows its courts to try people for crimes against humanity, even outside the courts' normal jurisdiction.

The defendants are also accused of involvement in a 1980 attack on the Spanish embassy that killed at least 36 people. In all, some 200,000 civilians are believed to have died in the war.

Some information for this report was provided by AP