Guatemala awaits Constitutional Court rulings, defense continues legal challenges to genocide trial

Jose Efraín Ríos Montt, moments after being declared guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity in a Guatemala City court, May 10 2013. Photo: James Rodriguez.

At the Open Society Justice Initiative's blog, a good synopsis of the post-genocide-trial verdict legal hijinks in Guatemala. Snip:

Since before the start of the Guatemalan genocide trial, defense counsel filed scores of legal challenges—including some to delay or prevent the proceedings; challenge the impartiality of the presiding judges; or put into question the fairness of the trial. Now, in the week following the guilty verdict of former de facto head of state Efrain Rios Montt, defense counsel seek to overturn the guilty verdict, nullify the entire trial, and impugn the judges. The Constitutional Court has said that it plans to release three judgments in connection with the Rios Montt trial midday on Wednesday.

Rios Montt’s lawyer, Francisco García Gudiel, has informed the media that there are at least 12 legal challenges pending before the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of Guatemala. Garcia Gudiel claims to have filed at least two new legal challenges before the Constitutional Court, immediately after the trial court’s May 10, 2013 ruling. One legal recourse (an amparo) alleges several procedural irregularities in the trial that violated his client’s constitutional rights to due process, among them that Ríos Montt was denied his right to counsel of choice—himself—during the critical time that evidence was collected in the trial. Using a second recourse (ocurso en queja), Garcia Gudiel alleges that the trial court refused to abide by an appellate court decision (from the Third Chamber), which had ordered the suspension of the trial until some evidentiary matters were resolved by a pre-trial judge Judge Carol Patricia Flores.

More on the aftermath of Friday's historic verdict at the website.