The constitutional court of Guatemala has just overturned former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt’s conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity. Mr. Ríos Montt, in office in 1982-1983 following a military coup, was found guilty on 10 May 2013 of overseeing the deliberate killings by the armed forces of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil population when he was ruling the country and was sentenced to 80 years in prison.
Guatemala’s constitutional court has deemed that all proceedings that followed the 19 April dispute were to be annulled. The trial is to restart from that point, when proceedings were suspended over a quarrel between judges over who should take the Ríos Montt case. For a few hours on that day, Mr. Ríos Montt was without legal representation at his side. A few hours which have set back the case by over a month.
Mr. Ríos Montt became in May the first former head of state to be found guilty for genocide in clearly genuine national proceedings. After the constitutional court’s decision, his lawyers immediately filled an appeal. Following his conviction, Mr. Ríos Montt spent one day in prison before he was transferred to a military hospital, and he is now expected to return to his home under house arrest.