In Effort to Try Dictator, Guatemala Shows New Judicial Might [View all]
Source: New York Times
In Effort to Try Dictator, Guatemala Shows New Judicial Might
March 17, 2013 6:04 pm
By ELISABETH MALKIN / The New York Times
XIX, Guatemala -- Tiburcio Utuy thought he saw fear cross the former dictator's face.
A judge had just ruled that the military dictator, Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, now 86, should stand trial for genocide and crimes against humanity committed under his rule in the 1980s, a decision Mr. Utuy and other Maya survivors of Guatemala's 34-year civil war had gathered in the courtroom to hear in person.
"He won't suffer the same way we suffered -- but he will be scared," Mr. Utuy said in his mountaintop village a few days after the ruling in late January. "And maybe he will spend a little bit of time in prison."
Mr. Utuy, 71, is set to be a witness in a trial that few believed would ever take place.
But Guatemala's justice system has begun a transformation. In a show of political will, prosecutors are taking long-dormant human rights cases to court, armed with evidence that victims and their advocates have painstakingly compiled over more than a decade -- as much to bear witness as to bring judgment.