Guatemala's Genocide on Trial: Kate Doyle

Kate Doyle of the National Security Archive, whose work led to the uncovering of secret Guatemalan Army documents that served as critical evidence in the genocide trial of Rios Montt, writes in the Nation about the road to that historic "guilty" verdict on May 10— and what happened ten days later, when "the forces of impunity struck back."

On May 20, the Constitutional Court vacated the sentence, ordering the proceedings to rewind to April 19, the day a lower court judge called for the trial's suspension due to unresolved appeals by the ex-dictator's defense attorneys.

The ruling was the latest blow in what had been a sustained dirty war waged by Ríos Montt's supporters since his indictment in 2012 to delay, obstruct, divert and otherwise sabotage the genocide case. It was also evidence of the persistent and grievous weaknesses in Guatemala's justice system.

The road to justice has been long and tortuous; it just got a little longer. The court's judgment makes the genocide verdict vulnerable in unforeseeable ways, potentially opening it to a new wave of procedural challenges by the defense. The prosecutors are gearing up for a fight to protect the outcome of their case, combining their legal strategy with political will, public pressure and judicial independence. Whatever happens, the witnesses' powerful survivor tales from the trial can never be annulled, and the genocide sentence stands as a testament to what they achieved.

Read more: Guatemala's Genocide on Trial | The Nation. (AP Photo/Moises Castilo)