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Guatemala Arrests 14 Former Officials for War-era Crimes

FILE - Indigenous women from the Ixil region attend a genocide trial in Guatemala City, May 9, 2013, for former Guatemalan president Efrain Rios Montt, who was accused of overseeing the killings of nearly 2,000 members of the Maya Ixil population during the country’s civil war.

Guatemala on Wednesday detained 14 ex-military officials, including the brother of a former president, for forced disappearances and crimes against humanity during the bloodiest period of its 36-year civil war.

Among the captured was 83-year-old Manuel Benedicto Lucas, a former top general and brother of ex-President Romeo Lucas, and Byron Barrientos, who was minister of the interior from 2000 to 2004.

Testimonies from victims helped officials locate 558 skeletons in a secret cemetery inside a military zone and connect them to the accused, said state prosecutor Orlando Lopez.

Over the past decade, the Central American country has begun prosecuting crimes from its civil war past, including massacres of women and children.

Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war pitted a succession of right-wing governments against leftist insurgents and led to nearly a quarter-million deaths. A U.N.-backed truth commission said the armed forces carried out more than 80 percent of human rights abuses during the conflict.