Guatemalan strongman's genocide trial to resume in April 2014

Guatemala City, Jun 5 (EFE).- Former dictator Efrain Rios Montt's re-trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity will not begin until April 2014, a Guatemalan court said Wednesday.

Major Crimes Tribunal B, which was assigned the case on Tuesday, said it already has more than two-dozen other cases on its docket.

The three members of the original trial court, Major Crimes Tribunal A, recused themselves from the re-trial ordered by Guatemala's Constitutional Court in its May 20 decision overturning the May 10 guilty verdict against Rios Montt.

Tribunal A sentenced the 86-year-old retired general to 80 years in prison for the deaths of 1,771 Ixil Indians between March 1982 and August 1983 as part of a counter-insurgency campaign.

But the CC threw out the conviction and ordered a repeat of the segment of Rios Montt's trial that took place between April 19 and May 10.

The Guatemalan Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a motion to quash the prosecution of the erstwhile strongman, finding that an amnesty covering deeds committed during the 1960-1996 civil war does not extend to genocide and crimes against humanity.

The trial of Rios Montt marked the first time any Guatemalan ruler was called to account for the massacres and atrocities of the internal conflict.

Prosecutors say 5.5 percent of Guatemala's Ixils were killed during Rios Montt's rule, which coincided with the bloodiest phase of a struggle that claimed more than 200,000 lives.

Most of the dead were Indian peasants slaughtered by the army and its paramilitary allies.