Great news: Former genocidal despot has really good appeals lawyers
posted at 11:12 pm on May 20, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Remember when everyone congratulated Guatemala for being the first Latin American country to try and convict a former despot for genocide? Er … never mind, at least for now:
Guatemala’s top court overturned the genocide conviction of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt and ordered on Monday that his trial restart.
Constitutional Court secretary Martin Guzman said the trial needs to go back to where it stood on April 19 to solve several appeal issues.
The ruling came 10 days after a three-judge panel convicted the 86-year-old Rios Montt of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in massacres of Mayans during Guatemala’s civil war. It found he knew about the slaughter of at least 1,771 Ixil Mayans in the western highlands and didn’t stop it.
Rios Montt only served one whole day in prison; he’s now in a hospital awaiting the replay of his trial. On the bright side, it doesn’t sound like Rios Montt’s chances are improving with the do-over:
The trial had been nearing closing arguments when that judge, Carol Patricia Flores, intervened. Flores had been in charge of the first phase of the trial, in which evidence was gathered and determined to justify a trial, but she was removed from the case in February 2012 after defense lawyers charged her with bias.
Flores was reinstated to the case in early April by the Constitutional Court. She tried to halt the trial, but the tribunal hearing the case went ahead with testimony and convicted Rios Montt.
Hopefully, Guatemala will get the opportunity to be the first Latin American country to succeed in twice convicting a former despot of genocide.