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Former Guatemalan Dictator Rios Montt Dies


FILE - Guatemala's former dictator Efrain Rios Montt is seen returning from a break in court in Guatemala City, Jan. 26, 2012.

Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who ruled over one of the bloodiest periods of the country's civil war, has died. He was 91.

In 2013, Rios Montt became the first head of state to be convicted of genocide in his own country over his 17-month rule from 1982 to 1983. He was found guilty of the massacre of 1,771 indigenous Ixil Mayans by security forces under his command.

But the ruling was overturned days later by Guatemala's constitutional court because of a "procedural error," dismaying human rights activists and victims who had long sought to see him punished for atrocities.

FILE - Villagers place the remains of their recently identified relatives killed during the civil war, in niche graves at the cemetery of Santa Avelina, Guatemala, Nov. 30, 2017.
FILE - Villagers place the remains of their recently identified relatives killed during the civil war, in niche graves at the cemetery of Santa Avelina, Guatemala, Nov. 30, 2017.

Rios Montt's lawyers sought to block further proceedings, citing what they said were his deteriorating health due to dementia.

Guatemala's Congress said in a statement that because of the political offices he held, Rios Montt was entitled to lie in state at the Legislative Palace. But the family decided to instead hold a quick, private burial ceremony Sunday at a local cemetery.

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