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Rios Montt guilty of genocide

May 11, 2013

A former Guatemalan dictator has been found guilty of genocide and sentenced to 80 years in prison. The charges stem from the bloodiest period of the country's 36-year civil war.

Former Guatemalan de facto President, retired General Jose Efrain Rios Montt gestures during his trial on charges of genocide during his 1982-83 rule. (Photo: Johan Ordonex/AFP/Getty Images)
Image: Getty Images

Former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, 86, was found guilty by a Guatemalan court on Friday of genocide and crimes against humanity.

"[Rios Montt] had full knowledge of everything that was happening and did not stop it," presiding Judge Yasmin Barrios said Friday.

A three-judge tribunal delivered their verdict after a nearly two-month trial in which dozens of victims shared details of the horrific ordeals they endured under Rios Montt's rule.

The court sentenced Rios Montt to 80 years in prison, with 50 years for genocide and 30 for crimes against humanity, but he has vowed to appeal.

A bloody legacy

Rios Montt came to power in 1982 following a coup, and remained until 1983. He was accused of allowing his troops to massacre thousands of villagers, turning his back on rape, torture and arson by soldiers in an attempt to defeat Guatemala's leftist rebels.

He was tried for the killings of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil indigenous group, just a portion of those who died during his rule.

Between 1960 and 1996, Guatemala endured a civil war that claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people, and Rios Montt's year in power has been considered the most deadly of the decades-long conflict.

Rios Montt has denied he knew of the massacres while in power.

tm/slk (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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