Judge rules that Guatemala's former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt must face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity
By Rory Carroll
Members of the Ixil tribe, which suffered horrific atrocities at the hands of the army, said they had waited decades for this moment but expressed disappointment that the retired general was placed under house arrest rather than jailed.
After a day-long hearing, Judge Carol Patricia Flores Blanco ruled on Thursday that there was sufficient evidence linking Ríos Montt to the massacre of 1,700 indigenous people during his 17-month rule in 1982 and 1983.
The judge agreed with prosecutors who said the 85-year-old, as head of the government at the time, should answer for the armed forces' actions. It was one of the more brutal phases of a 36-year conflict which ended in 1996 after claiming 200,000 lives. The trial's preliminary hearing was scheduled for March.
I guess we've tried political and military leaders for genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda. And Milosevic for "ethnic cleansing" in the Balkans. But I'm not sure we've ever tried a head of state for the genocide of indigenous people.
In any case, this is a shift in the right direction. Perhaps a paradigm shift. Never again will tyrants be able to kill their own people without fearing the consequences.
For more on the subject, see Racism Against Guatemala's Indians and Reagan Aided Atrocities Against Indians.
Below: Cowboy helped kill Indians...same as it ever was.