Guatemala City, Apr 19 (EFE).- A court in the Guatemalan capital decided on Friday to suspend the genocide trial of former strongman Efrain Rios Montt while vowing to fight another court's "illegal" move to quash the case.
"The tribunal unanimously suspends the session awaiting the Constitutional Court's decision" on the order to stop the trial, chief judge Jazmin Barrios said.
Late Thursday, magistrate Carol Patricia Flores ordered the proceedings halted, citing a Supreme Court ruling that mandated the correction of ostensible judicial errors at an earlier stage of the process.
Flores overstepped her authority, according to Barrios, who said only the Constitutional Court has the power to stop a trial.
Rios Montt, 86, and his erstwhile intelligence chief, 67-year-old retired Gen. Jose Rodriguez, are accused in the deaths of 1,771 Ixil Indians between March 1982 and August 1983.
The trial, which began March 19, marked the first time any Guatemalan ruler has been called to account for the massacres and atrocities of the country's 1960-1996 civil war.
Rios Montt presided over the bloodiest phase of a conflict that claimed more than 200,000 lives. Most of the dead were Indian peasants slaughtered by the army and its paramilitary allies.
The court has heard from survivors who saw soldiers carry out horrific atrocities.
"They opened up her chest, they ripped out her heart. I don't know if it was with a knife or a machete," Francisco Velasco testified earlier this month about the killing of his 12-year-old daughter.