Saturday, April 20, 2013

Genocide Trial Most Tumultuous Week Yet


Daughter supports mother, a widow whose husband was killed  in  the violence.

Witnesses for the defense of Gen. Efraín Rios Montt testified that life improved for indigenous Maya when he came into office in March, 1982, in the mountainous Ixil region.
Left, Ricardo Mendez Ruiz, president of the Foundation Against Terrorism, which published a 20-page newspaper insert on Sunday calling the genocide charge a "farce" and blamed a "Marxist" Catholic Church for sowing the seeds of violence with "revolutionary" theology.  Second from left, Zulema Paz de Rodriguez, wife of Rios co-defendant, former military intelligence chief Mauricio Rodriguez.  Third from left,  Zury Rios Sosa, former Guatemalan congress member and the strongman's daughter who married former Congressman Jerry Weller (R-IL) in 2004.  Right, unidentified companion of Zury Rios.

Spectators listened with stony faces in the packed courtroom. 

 Some 200,000, mostly unarmed indigenous, died during the armed internal conflict according to an estimate by a U.N.-sponsored truth commission. In a theatrical departure, defense attorneys abandoned the courtroom in protest at proceedings on the morning of April 18.
Alone at defense table, Gen. José Efraín Ríos Montt
Security was unable or unwilling to bring them back despite orders from the bench, or perhaps armed guards were unable to hear the order  in the ensuing hubbub.
Spectators and press in a crush to enter a separate, smaller courtroom where another judge "annulled" the trial going on in the Supreme Court Building

That afternoon a judge from another court ordered the trial halted. On the morning of April 19, however, the trial's presiding judge reiterated the tribunal's "independence," declared the previous day's order illegal and said the trial would continue.  Before exiting the court the three judges stood and acknowledged elated applause from the courtroom. "The tribunal appreciates your confidence in the justice system," said tribunal president, Jasmįn Barrios.

Survivors and others left the Supreme Court building for a demonstration and mile-long march to the Constitutional Court, where prosecutors filed a  formal request for review of the judge who ordered the trial annulled.

Here are two stories I've published in the last week about the genocide trial.
 National Catholic Reporter
New America Media