Genocide trial of ex-dictator resumes in Guatemala

Guatemala City, Apr 30 (EFE).- The genocide trial of former strongman Efrain Rios Montt resumed here Tuesday after Guatemala's Constitutional Court said the case could proceed.

The trial began last month, but on April 18, 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.

The Constitutional Court lifted Flores' order, while also reinstating Francisco Garcia Gudiel as Rios Montt's chief counsel and excluding testimony from four witnesses who appeared during the first few sessions.

Tuesday's hearing began with a re-reading of the charges against Rios Montt and co-defendant Jose Rodriguez.

Judge Jazmin Barrios then granted a week's recess to give Rodriguez's new counsel time to review the file.

Rios Montt, 86, and the 67-year-old Rodriguez, are accused in the deaths of 1,771 Ixil Indians between March 1982 and August 1983.

The trial marks 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.