Guatemala ready for genocide trial
Efrain Rios Montt, the country's former military ruler, faces charges in a landmark case.
Romina Ruiz-Goiriena Last Modified: 18 Mar 2013 15:44
Guatemala City, Guatemala - It was nightfall when the army arrived to San Gaspar Chajul, a town in the department of Quiche in northern Guatemala.
Frightened, Antonio Cabo and his family ran away from the troops, and into the darkness. They climbed up a tree and used branches for cover. In the distance, people were being dragged from their homes. They were yelling for help in Ixil, one of more than 20 Mayan languages spoken in this country.
"When I close my eyes, I can still hear them," he told Al Jazeera. "But we were the only ones to understand their cries". From the tree, he watched as the army killed 95 people. It was January 1982; Antonio was 11 years old.
The army, Cabo said, would return two more times before finally burning down his home in March that same year. Each time, they pillaged more of his village. His grandmother and two-month-old sister didn't survive.
Now 41, Cabo is set to testify as trial opens against former Guatemalan leader Efrain Rios-Montt. According to the prosecutors, the retired general is charged with genocide for the killing of 1,771 indigenous Ixiles in 1982 and 1983, when he was the country's de facto president.