Former Guatemala dictator to face massacre charges

By REUTERS
May 22, 2012 05:07

 
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GUATEMALA CITY - Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt will face a second trial on genocide charges after a judge ruled on Monday he could be prosecuted for ordering a 1982 massacre that left 201 people dead.

Rios Montt, 85, who ruled during a particularly bloody period in 1982 and 1983, is already facing trial on separate charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Judge Patricia Flores said on Monday she found sufficient evidence tying Rios Montt to the Las Dos Erres massacre, one of the worst mass killings at the height of the country's brutal 36-year civil war.

The massacre occurred after a group of about 20 soldiers was ordered to search the village for weapons. They blindfolded, strangled, shot and bludgeoned villagers and a newborn child to death with a sledgehammer before dumping them down a well.

Defense lawyers had argued that Montt, who ruled as commander-in-chief for 17 months, was not physically present during the massacre and therefore could not be charged.

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