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Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt charged with genocide

The former general had immunity as a congressman until 2012, but after his term expired, a judge charged him with crimes against humanity.

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Retired General and former de facto President Jose Efrain Rios Montt is seen in a court in Guatemala City on January 26, 2012, during a hearing for a case for human rights abuses committed during the 36-year civil war. (Jose Miguel Lam/AFP/Getty Images)

The former dictator of Guatemala, Efrain Rios Montt, has been charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, the BBC reported.

Rios Montt was in power from 1982 to 1983, one of the most violent periods of the country's three decades of civil war.

His defense argued that he is not eligible to be tried since he was never on the battlefield, though “prosecutors argued a rigid chain of command in the military at the time meant the general was responsible, even though he was not present at the killings,” BBC said.

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The 85-year-old former general and congressman is accused of orchestrating 100 massacres and killing over 1700 people. The 36-year-long war ended in 1996 and is thought to be responsible for the death or disappearance of 200,000 people.

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The Associated Press reported that this is the first Latin American president that has been charged with crimes against humanity. Rios Montt is thought to be responsible for massacres in ethnically Mayan villages, which were thought to be sympathetic to leftists. Thousands of ethnic Mayans were killed in the war.  

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/120127/guatemalan-dictator-efrain-rios-montt-charged-genocide