Thursday, May 9, 2013

"I am Innocent" -- The General Speaks

  The General Speaks at the Genocide Trial

For the first time since the Guatemala genocide trial began on March 19, Gen. Efraín Rios Montt spoke, for nearly an hour. In a manner not unlike the Sunday sermons he broadcast on moral themes during his administration from 1982 to 1983. he explained that far from committing genocide, he saved the country which he said had been on the verge of falling into the hands of pro-Communist rebels.  Earlier, in documents presented during summation for the prosecution, army patrols said the guerrillas had left the Ixil Triangle area of the country's highlands, before the army scorched earth campaign.
Rios Montt's daughter Zury, center in photo left, and Ixil Maya survivors, watch Rios Montt speak

"I was chief of state and I had a staff called a cabinet," the general said, insisting he had no direct command over the violence.  "I was a head of state, not a zone chief, " he said.  Local commanders possessed autonomy. "What did I do wrong?" he asked.  I fulfilled my responsibility."

Prosecutors gave final arguments.  They are asking for 75 years in jail for Rios Montt, 86

In his summation, Rios Montt's lawyer Francisco Garcia Gudiel questioned the capacity and education of most prosecution expert witnesses, including the Guatemalan  forensic anthropologists who have unearthed thousands of remains of the slain.  Rios Montt addressed his remarks to journalists who squatted before him or knelt or sat in a circle to get the best shot.  After 20 minutes, Judge Barrios directed the General to speak to the bench.  The court has only to hear a statement from Rodriguez,  beginning early morning May 10.