Tuesday, April 30, 2013 5:48 pm
Rios Montt's genocide trial resumes in Guatemala
By SONIA PEREZ DIAZAssociated Press
A three-judge tribunal reopened the trial and ordered two public defenders to represent Rios Montt and his co-defendant, Jose Rodriguez Sanchez, after their lawyers abandoned the case, arguing the trial had been annulled.
Judge Yassmin Barrios, the tribunal's president, also ordered that the testimony of four witnesses heard the first day of the trial be struck out after Rios Montt won an appeal. The tribunal has yet to decide if the testimonies will be repeated.
Rios Montt rejected his public defender and instead brought in a lawyer expelled earlier by the tribunal but recently reinstated by an appeals court.
The lawyer, Francisco Garcia Gudiel, had been ordered off the case after he called for the three judges on the tribunal to be removed from the proceedings. He indicated he would keep trying to have the judges dismissed.
The trial "was unlawfully reopened," Garcia Gudiel told reporters after the session ended. "We will ask for those three criminals to be prosecuted."
Barrios ordered a recess until Thursday to give Rodriguez Sanchez's new lawyer time to catch up with the case.
Rios Montt, 86, seized power in a March 23, 1982, coup, and ruled until he was overthrown just over a year later.
Prosecutors say that while in power Rios Montt was aware of, and thus responsible for, the slaughter by subordinates of at least 1,771 Ixil Mayas in the towns of San Juan Cotzal, San Gaspar Chajul and Santa Maria Nebaj in the Quiche department of Guatemala's western highlands. Those military offensives were part of a brutal, decades-long counterinsurgency against a leftist uprising that brought massacres in the Mayan heartland where the guerrillas were based.
Rodriguez Sanchez, 68, is a former high-ranking member of the military chiefs of staff.