Guatemalan General Found Guilty of Genocide
“As a human rights organization, and relatives of victims of human rights violations, we are so happy to hear of the outcome [of the Ríos Montt case]. It is just one small step in the process to bring to justice so many military officials who committed grave human rights abuses against our people in Central America. The verdict shows that justice doesn’t spare anyone, even those military officials who thought they would never be tried for their crimes. This precedent stands at a global level as an example. There is no reconciliation without justice. Thank God that justice is being done.” Madre Guadalupe, CODEFAM
While campesinos in the Salvadoran countryside fought for their rights, a beloved priest held communion beneath the gaze of gunpoint, and every step toward freedom coincided with another life taken, a similarly haunting war raged in Guatemala. From 1960 to 1996, an estimated 200,000 people were killed or disappeared in Guatemala, with impunity blocking justice at every turn. Until recently, little progress had been made in punishing those guilty of the murders, tortures, and other human rights abuses carried out during these three decades. In a historical decision made on Friday, May 10, 2013 a three judge Guatemalan court convicted the former military dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt, for genocide and crimes against humanity. The court found him guilty for the massacre of 1,771 Mayan Ixil people, sentencing Montt to 50 years in prison. This verdict marks the first time a former head of state was found liable of genocide in a national court. The decision is a great victory for the movement for truth and justice for victims of human rights abuses around the world.
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