Former Guatemalan dictator José Efraín Rios Montt was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity today at his trial in Guatemala City. He was immediately sentenced to 50 years imprisonment on the genocide charge, with an additional 30 years on the charge of crimes against humanity.
“The damage incurred is irreperable,” said Judge Jazmin Barrios, reading the court’s verdict to a packed courtroom. “As de facto president, it is logical that he had full knowledge of what was happening and he did nothing to stop it.”
The 86-year-old former General and head of state was charged with the crimes over a counterinsurgency campaign in 1982-1983 that resulted in the deaths of 1,771 Maya Ixil.
More: Rios Montt Found Guilty of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity - Boing Boing There are links to earlier coverage and good background information at this link too.
The New York Times article about the verdict is here. It dovetails well with the article linked above. This excerpt is from the end:
The involvement of the United States in Guatemala’s politics received scant attention during the trial.
The American military had a close relationship with the Guatemalan military well into the 1970s before President Jimmy Carter’s administration cut off aid. When General Ríos Montt seized power in March 1982, President Ronald Reagan’s administration cultivated him as a reliable Central American ally in its battle against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government and Salvadoran guerrillas.
Those interests influenced the way American officials treated evidence of the massacres. They were quick to accept military explanations that guerrillas had carried out the killings, said Kate Doyle, a Guatemala expert at the National Security Archive, a Washington research group that works to obtain declassified government documents.
By the end of 1982, however, the State Department had gathered evidence that the army was behind the massacres.
But even then, the administration insisted that General Ríos Montt was working to reduce the violence. After a regional meeting, President Reagan described him as “a man of great personal integrity and commitment.”
As Xeni Jardin points out in her last two paragraphs, this isn’t over yet.