Former Dictator Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt by YouTube
has been convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity by a three judge tribunal in Honduras.
CNN reports, " The trial marked the first time that a head of state was tried for genocide by his country's own judicial system."
The guilty verdict, which was reached today, May 10, ended a process that began in 1999, when the Guatemalan non-governmental organization Association for Justice and Reconciliation filed complaints against several military officers including General Montt. Fox news recounts the sequence of events proceeding from the initial complaint filing until the conviction today, here.
He was sentenced to 80 years in prison (50 years for genocide and 30 years for crimes against humanity)
Rion Montt is the first former head of state to be convicted of genocide by a court in his own country.
1982 coup On March 7, 1982, General Ángel Aníbal Guevara, the official party candidate, won the presidential election, universally denounced as fraudulent by opposition parties. On March 23, with the support of fellow soldiers, General Horacio Egberto Maldonado Schaad and Colonel Francisco Luis Gordillo Martínez, Ríos Montt deposed General Romeo Lucas García in a coup d'e'tat and seized power, an act which the United States was neither complicit with nor had even forseen. They set up a military junta with Ríos Montt at its head. The junta immediately suspended the constitution, shut down the legislature, set up secret tribunals, and began a campaign against political dissidents that included kidnapping, torture, and extrajudicial assassinations. The coup was described as being of the Oficiales jóvenes ("young officers"), and prevented Guevara from being installed as president on July 1.
There was an attempt by Ríos Montt to win over the large insurgent groups to his version of the rule of the law, unleashing a scorched earth campaign on the nation's Mayan population, particularly in the departments of Quiche' and Huehuetenango , that, according to the 1999 United Nations truth commission, resulted in the annihilation of nearly 600 villages.
In 1982, an Amnesty International report estimated that over 10,000 indigenous Guatemalans and peasant farmers were killed from March to July of that year, and that 100,000 rural villagers were forced to flee their homes. According to more recent estimates, tens of thousands of non-combatants were killed by the regime's death squads in the subsequent eighteen months. At the height of the bloodshed under Ríos Montt, reports put the number of killings and disappearances at more than 3,000 per month.
Given Ríos Montt's staunch anticommunism and ties to the United States, the Reagan administration continued to support the general and his regime, paying a visit to Guatemala City in December 1982. During a meeting with Ríos Montt on December 4, Reagan declared: "President Ríos Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. ... I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice.
President Ronald Reagan claimed Guatemala's human rights conditions were improving and used this to justify several major shipments of military hardware to Rios Montt; $4 million in helicopter spare parts and $6.3 million in additional military supplies in 1982 and 1983 respectively. The decision was taken in spite of records concerning human rights violations, by-passing the approval from Congress. Meanwhile, a then-secret 1983 CIA cable noted a rise in "suspect right-wing violence" and an increasing number of bodies "appearing in ditches and gullies."
There are many more former leaders of nations who have been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Perhaps this conviction and sentence will break the ice to future prosecutions and convictions.
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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization (more...)