Guatemala ex-dictator forced to appear at genocide trial

Former Guatemalan de facto president (1982-1983), retired General Jose Efrain Rios Montt, arrives on a stretcher as a retrial against him opens in Guatemala City, on January 5, 2015Guatemala’s ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt was hauled to court on a stretcher Monday to attend his retrial on genocide charges before proceedings were halted by a motion to change judges. The 88-year-old former ruler, who is accused of ordering the army to massacre 1,771 Ixil Maya Indians during Guatemala’s brutal civil war, was brought to court in an ambulance after failing in his bid to be tried in absentia for health reasons. Rios Montt, who ruled Guatemala with an iron fist in the early 1980s, was sentenced in 2013 to 80 years in prison for genocide and war crimes, but the country’s Constitutional Court threw out the conviction on procedural grounds and ordered a retrial. After Valdez rejected Rios Montt’s request to be excused from attending the trial, saying medical documents did not indicate his health problems were high-risk, the former leader was brought into court on a stretcher, his face covered with a beige blanket.

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