Guatemala ex-dictator to stand trial on genocide
GUATEMALA CITY (AP) - A former United States (US)-backed dictator who presided over one of the bloodiest periods of Guatemala's civil war will stand trial on charges he ordered the murder, torture and displacement of thousands of Mayan Indians, a judge ruled on Monday.
Human rights advocates have said that the prosecution of Mr Jose Efrain Rios Montt would be an important symbolic victory for the victims of one of the most horrific of the conflicts that devastated Central America during the last decades of the Cold War.
He is the first former president to be charged with genocide by a Latin American court.
Guatemala's leaders have been criticised for years for their inability or unwillingness to prosecute government forces and allied paramilitaries accused of marching into Mayan villages, carrying out rapes and torture, and slaughtering women, children and unarmed men in a "scorched earth" campaign aimed at eliminating the support for a left-wing guerrilla movement.