Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt is set to stand for a second trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, Fox News reports.
The trial, which does not yet have an official date, concerns his alleged participation in the Dos Erres massacre. Rios Montt is accused of ordering government forces to kill over 200 people who were allegedly associated with leftist guerillas in La Libertad.
During the massacre, special operation troops named Kaibiles forced residents out of their homes, separating men, women and children.
Not only did the Kaibiles use hammers to smash the children’s heads, they also raped all of the women and girls and ripped out fetuses from those who were pregnant. All of the men were immediately killed, shot execution style.
Most of the women were also murdered. Those who were spared were kidnapped, raped and strangled to death days later.
Rios Montt is also set to stand trial for another massacre, in which he is accused of ordering the killings of 1,771 Indigenous Ixil Maya people from 1982 to 1983. Along with ordering the killings, he also accused of implementing the scorched earth policy, a military strategy that uses crop burning and infrastructure ruination to control an enemy’s surroundings.
This campaign is responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 Indigenous people.
Both trials will be held behind closed doors and will not result in prison time, given his old age and deteriorating health condition. Rios Montt is 90 years old and suffers from Alzheimer's and dementia.
“The final outcome of the Ríos Montt trial is still very important,” Harvard Kennedy School professor and human rights activist Kathryn Sikkink told the Christian Science Monitor.
“It would be a pity if Guatemala, having gone this far, should make some legal and judicial mistakes … [to] undermine the great progress they’ve made to this date.”
The former despot, who was a “School of the Americas” graduate and an alleged CIA asset, is widely recognized has having overseen the bloodiest period of Guatemala’s over three-decade-old civil war.
The war, which lasted from 1960 to 1996, was aged between the socialist Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity and the Guatemalan military, which was backed by the United States, Israel and apartheid South Africa.