Guatemala: Rios Montt genocide trial resumes amid legal uncertainty, polarized political climate

Ixil witnesses inside the courtroom, Tue. Apr. 30, 2013. At center, Maria Sajiq of Nebaj, Quiché, Guatemala. Ms. Sajiq was among the survivors Miles O'Brien and I interviewed in Nebaj recently, for a forthcoming PBS NewsHour report. (Photo: Xeni Jardin)

I am blogging from inside the Supreme Court of Guatemala, where Judge Jazmin Barrios has just re-started the genocide trial of Efrain Rios Montt and Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez after a two-week suspension, during which a series of obscure legal battles took place.

As Amy Ross at the OSIJ's blog accurately explains, the historic trial reconvenes "in an environment of complex legal challenges, powerful political forces, and intense emotions."

Listen to a live audio stream of today's proceedings here.

My live-tweets from the courtroom are below.

Tue. Apr. 30, 2013: L-R: Co-defendant Sanchez, public defender Otto Ramirez, Rios Montt, and previously-expelled attorney Garcia Gudiel inside courtroom. (Photo: XJ)

Montt and Sanchez are on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity, for violence committed against Ixil Maya communities during Montt’s 17-month regime (March 1982 to August 1983). Montt's government was backed by the US; he received military training in the US, and the US provided weapons, helicopters, funding, training, and other forms of invaluable support for the counterinsurgency campaign his Army led.

The trial is not only historic for Guatemala, but for the world. It is the first time a former head of state has been prosecuted for genocide in a domestic court in the nation where the alleged crimes occurred.

Our archive of Boing Boing dispatches from the courtroom is here.

At, a good explainer on the case, and an archive of daily proceedings.

The judge's bench, Tue. Apr. 30, 2013. Judge Jazmin Barrios, at center. (Photo: XJ)

The prosecution table, Tue. Apr. 30, 2013. (Photo: XJ)

Here's a Twitter list of observers who have been diligently live-tweeting from the trial. Among them: NISGUA Guate (Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala), Plaza Publica, and Rios Montt Trial (a project of the Open Society Initiative).

Panorama: Front row in Judge Barrios' courtroom, Tue. Apr. 30, 2013. (Photo: XJ)

Below, my live-tweets from courtroom today.


  1. Good. Once, just once, I’d like to see one of the perpetrators of such vile acts get their just deserts. Much respect and thanks to you for your reportage on this Xeni. I’ve seen nothing of it anywhere else. Good work; yore doin it rite.

  2. Thank you, Xeni.  Is it just me or does it appear as though Rios Montt is pretty unconcerned about the whole trial?

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