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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 8:15 pm

Pre-trial hearing starts for Guatemala ex-dictator

The Associated Press

A judge in Guatemala has begun pre-trial hearings in a genocide case against former dictator Efrain Rios Montt.

Rios Montt is accused of overseeing hundreds of killings when he ruled Guatemala from 1982 to 1983, at the height of the country's 36-year civil war. The war ended in peace accords in 1996, after 200,000 deaths.

The judge is going to use the hearings to determine whether there is enough evidence to order a trial.

The 85-year-old Rios Montt attended the hearing Tuesday accompanied by friends, relatives and at least three lawyers. His lawyers have sought to block the trial, arguing that he is protected by an amnesty law.

Relatives of the victims of massacres in western Guatemala also attended.

The prosecution case includes forensic reports documenting hundreds of deaths.