GUATEMALA CITY – A court in Guatemala indicted retired Gen. Efrain Rios Montt on charges of mass murder and crimes against humanity for massacres carried out during his 1982-1983 rule of the Central American country.
Judge Carol Patricia Flores ordered the erstwhile strongman to stand trial after hearing more than eight hours of arguments from prosecutors and defense lawyers.
The 85-year-old Rios Montt declined to speak during the hearing.
“I found there are rational indications of criminality for your possible participation in the events the prosecution attributed to you,” Flores told the defendant.
The judge subsequently granted a defense motion to allow Rios Montt house arrest instead of jail while awaiting trial.
Though Guatemalan law requires pre-trial detention for defendants accused of crimes against humanity, another provision authorizes house arrest when the accused is of advanced age.
The office of Guatemala’s human rights prosecutor said Friday that it is considering a legal challenge to Flores’ decision to grant Rios Montt house arrest.
Rios Montt ruled Guatemala during the bloodiest phase of a 36-year-long civil war that claimed more than 200,000 lives. Most of the dead were Indian peasants slaughtered by the army and its paramilitary allies. EFE