Guatemala's highest court has annulled the conviction of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity, which had been seen as historic.
The U.S.-supported dictator who presided over state terror and mass murder in the 1980s immediately began an 80-year sentence in a high-security prison.
Guatemala City -- Former Guatemala President Gen. Efrain Rios Montt found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.
After nearly two weeks of suspense, a tribunal has retaken control of the Guatemala trial of Gen. José Efraín Rios Montt.
After four weeks of testimony, on April 18 a separate court granted a defense request to annul the Guatemala genocide trial against Gen. José Efraín Ríos Montt and his intelligence chief, Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, in a decision based on a technicality.
“You are mocking the victims,” the prosecution said in a small, crowded meeting room amid a crush of press. “The victims are the accused,” said the defense.
Men and women, often wearing colorful woven traditional dress, are delivering riveting, occasionally stupefying accounts of brutality and murder of family members.
The trial, originally set for August, makes Guatemala the first country in history to try a former head of government for genocide in its own courts.
For the first time in history a former head of state, Guatemala's Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, is on trial for genocide in the country where the crime occurred. Two hundred thousand died over 36 years of armed conflict in the Central American nation, mostly Maya indigenous noncombatants at government hands. The unfolding judicial process has global repercussions, strengthening possibilities for prosecution of other prominent human rights cases.