After a suspension and a series of delays, the genocide trial against former Guatemalan president Efraín Ríos Montt and his former head of intelligence has resumed. The trial was sent to Guatemala’s Court of Appeals and Constitutional Court due to legal disputes.
As described by Open Society Justice Initiative’s documentation project on the trial, the proceedings unravelled as follows:
“The Rios Montt trial had moved rapidly for the first twenty days of hearings—with horrific accounts by more than 100 prosecution witnesses of massacres and other atrocities, forced displacement, and rape and sexual violence, as well as presentations by forensic, military, anthropological and other experts. The defense presented a few witnesses, and then delayed and obstructed as the trial moved towards its anticipated closure.”
After it was temporarily suspended, Nobel Peace Laureates called for the trial to resume and for Guatemalan authorities to “respect a legitimate, independent and transparent judicial process.” While the trial’s continuation is a success, witnesses and defenders of the survivors of Guatemala’s civil war remain at risk.
Throughout the trial proceedings, Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum and other human rights defenders have being targeted and threatened. In a recent press conference call organized by Nobel Women’s Initiative, Menchú Tum expressed her gratitude for all those in solidarity with her and her colleagues over the years and especially during this historic trial in Guatemala.
“I believe impunity reigns right now in Guatemala … We have been receiving verbal and psychological threats and now is the time we need support,” she stated.
Menchú Tum and activists say Ríos Montt trial must continue, Nobel Women’s Initiative, 1 May 2013.