Ex-Guatemala leader appears in court

Efrain Rios Montt, the former leader of Guatemala, is accused of genocide and other human rights abuses.



    Guatemala's former military leader Efrain Rios Montt, 85, has appeared in court to face accusations of genocide and other human rights crimes allegedly committed during his 17-month long rule.

    Rios Montt, known for his "scorched earth" campaign against Guatemala's leftist rebels, may have to answer charges that his regime was responsible for the massacre of tens of thousands of people.

    Thursday's hearing was to determine whether the former dictator should be formally charged with alleged atrocities that occurred during his regime from 1982 to 1983, prosecutors said.

    The hearing is the first since Rios Montt lost the congressional immunity that for years had shielded him from prosecution for human rights crimes.

    Guatemala's truth commission, which has been tasked with investigating the killings, estimates that there have been about 200,000 casualties from the country's 36-year civil war that ended in 1996.

    Some of the worst atrocities are said to have taken place during Rios Montt's rule.

    The UN-backed group, the Historical Clarification Commission, found that the government was guilty of a deliberate campaign of genocide against the mostly poor, indigenous massacre victims, many of whom were caught in the crossfire as the government battled leftist rebels.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.