Image: Former Guatemala Dictator to Court: I Never Ordered Genocide

Former Guatemala Dictator to Court: I Never Ordered Genocide

Friday, 10 May 2013 05:38 AM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

GUATEMALA CITY — Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt told a court on Thursday he never ordered the genocide of his own people, taking the witness stand for the first time as the war crimes trial against him neared its conclusion.

Rios Montt, 86, is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for allegedly drawing up a counterinsurgency plan during his 1982-1983 rule that killed at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil indigenous group.

Prosecutors say Rios Montt turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to rid Guatemala of leftist rebels during one of the bloodiest phases of Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war, allegations he denies.

Rios Montt, who had originally waived the right to testify in his own defense, spoke for about an hour just after the prosecution gave their closing arguments at the trial.

"I am innocent," he told the full courtroom. "I never had the intent to destroy any national ethnic group."

A panel of three civilian judges must weigh the evidence against Rios Montt, who has been under house arrest for more than a year.

Taking power in March 1982 at the head of a military coup that overthrew President Angel Guevara, Rios Montt was himself toppled in another takeover by the army 17 months later.

"I have never ordered genocide," Rios Montt said, adding that he took over a "failing" Guatemala in 1982 that was completely bankrupt and full of "subversive guerrillas."

Thousands of Guatemalans who lost family and friends during the war are awaiting the verdict. The conflict claimed the lives of around 200,000 people, many of them ethnic Maya. A additional 45,000 people disappeared.

During the trial, nearly 100 prosecution witnesses told tales of massacres, torture and rape by state forces.

The defense argued Rios Montt did not control operations, that specific ethnic groups were not targeted and that the war pitted belligerents of the same ethnicity against one another.

Rios Montt said each field commander was responsible for acts carried out on his watch during the civil war.

"There is autonomy in the chain of command," he said before the defense began its closing arguments. "My job as head of state was national policy. I was not commanding troops."

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Retype Email:
Country
Zip Code:
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

Powerful Earthquake Rattles Mexico, Shakes Buildings

Friday, 18 Apr 2014 12:37 PM

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico on Friday, shaking buildings in the capital and sending people running out into the  . . .

Students Add Easter Twist to Dwindling Venezuela Protests

Friday, 18 Apr 2014 11:28 AM

Venezuelan students are marching barefoot, building crucifixes and planning to burn effigies of President Nicolas Maduro . . .

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Laureate, Dies at 87

Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 17:01 PM

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel laureate whose novels and short stories exposed tens of millions of readers to Latin A . . .

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved