The guilty verdict against Efraín Ríos Montt, former leader of Guatemala, for genocide and crimes against humanity is an unprecedented step toward establishing accountability for atrocities during the country’s brutal civil war, Human Rights Watch said today.
“The conviction of Rios Montt sends a powerful message to Guatemala and the world that nobody, not even a former head of state, is above the law when it comes to committing genocide,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Without the persistence and bravery of each participant in this effort – the victims, prosecutors, judges, and civil society organizations – this landmark decision would have been inconceivable.”
Rios Montt was sentenced to 50 years in prison for the crime of genocide and 30 years for crimes against humanity in a sentence that was handed down on May 10, 2013 by Judge Yassmin Barrios in Guatemala City. In her decision, Barrios said Rios Montt was fully aware of plans to exterminate the indigenous Ixil population carried out by security forces under his command.
The genocide conviction was the first for a current or former head of state in a national court, Human Rights Watch said.
TVNL Comment: Now let's indict GW Bush and Dick Cheney. Why are they exempt from prosecution for the deaths of so many innocent people? Just asking....