Important moments of the Ríos Montt trial

January 1986- Ríos Montt’s successor General Mejia Victores files historic Decree 8-86, which provides general amnesty to all those responsible or accused of political and related crimes committed between March 23, 1982 and January 14, 1986.

December 1996- Peace accords are signed, ending the armed conflict. Partial amnesty is granted but explicitly excludes genocide, torture, forced disappearance, and other international crimes.

December 1999- Spanish National Court hears the appeals of a group of Guatemalans and Spaniards to charge eight high-ranking officials, including Ríos Montt, with genocide. In July 2006, Spanish courts issue international arrest warrants.

May 2001- Justice and Reconciliation Association (AJR) files formal complaint against ex-military dictator Ríos Montt and his high command on charges against humanity and war crimes.

December 2010- Claudia Paz y Paz named Guatemala’s Attorney General. Genocide case sees revival of activity in Guatemalan courts.

October 2011- Arrest warrants issued for 3 members of Ríos Montt’s high command: ex-Military Intelligence Director José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez is captured and linked to the  genocide case; ex-Defense Minister Oscar Humberto Mejía Victores is captured but deemed unfit for trial; ex-General Luis Enrique Mendoza García remains a fugitive from justice

November 23, 2011- Appellate Court orders the recusal of Judge Flores at the request of the defense, who claim that she lacks impartiality. Judge Miguel Angel Galvez is appointed to oversee the pre-trial procedures.

January 2012- Ríos Montt and Rodriguez Sanchez formally indicted on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The charges allege Ríos Montt as the intellectual author of 15 massacres against the Ixil people that took place between March 1982 and August 1983.

March 2012- The prosecution presents a formal indictment against Rios Montt and Rodriguez Sanchez for the massacre of 1,771 Mayan Ixils and the forcible displacement of 29,000, in addition to sexual violence and torture.

February 4, 2013- Galvez accepts all evidence, witnesses, and experts from the prosecution but rejects some from the defense for failing to adhere to procedural requirements. The defense files for reconsideration–which is rejected–and then a subsequent stay for the decision.

April 3, 2013- In response to the defense’s appeal on February 4th, the Constitutional Court partially allows changes to Judge Galvez’s decision. Ultimately, the court provisionally accepts some of the evidence that Galvez had initially rejected, but upholds the decision to disallow additional evidence after the trial begins.

April 17, 2013-Guatemala’s Supreme Court Justice gives the appellate court 5 days to clarify whether Ríos Montt and Sanchez can benefit from the 1986 Mejia Victores amnesty, which had been repealed during the peace process in 1996.

April 18, 2013- On day 20 of the trial, after 100 witnesses and 60 experts had testified, attorneys for the defense called for an annulment of the trial and stormed from the courtroom. They accused the tribunal of violating the April 3rd decision in which Judge Barrios had provisionally accepted all the evidence proposed by the defense. While Judge Barrios rejected the charge, Judge Flores accepted it and resolved that the tribunal should return to the state it was in on November 23, 2011. The decision would nullify all of the testimonies heard thus far.

April 19, 2013- At a reconvening of the trial, Judge Barrios stated that the tribunal had indeed complied with the Constitutional Court’s order and the trial would proceed. Public defenders would be appointed in the absence of the defendants’ lawyers, and the proceedings would resume after the courts resolved the legal issue at hand.

May 10, 2013- Rios Montt was found guilty of masterminding and overseeing the massacre of 1,771 Ixil Mayans in the department of El Quiche, as well as the forced displacement of 29,000, and 1,485 acts of sexual violence and acts of torture. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison and was ordered into police custody. His director of Military Intelligence, Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, was absolved of both crimes.

3 thoughts on “Important moments of the Ríos Montt trial

  1. Pingback: News Update: April 16 – May 2 | Guatemala Human Rights Updates

  2. Pingback: Ríos Montt Found Guilty of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity | Guatemala Human Rights Updates

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