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Guatemala ex-dictator to know Monday if he faces genocide trial

Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt looks on during a hearing at the Supreme Court of Justice in Guatemala City on Jan. 22, 2013. Rios Montt, who ruled the country from 1982-1983 during a bloody civil war, is in court to hear the charges against him for the slaughter of the Maya-Ixil ethnic group in the Quiche region in 1982.


A Guatemala judge has said he will rule Monday on whether former leader Efrain Rios Montt will stand trial for genocide over his alleged role in mass killings carried out during his dictatorship.

After three days of arguments, Judge Miguel Angel Galvez said Thursday he would only deliver his ruling at 11:00 am (1700 GMT) Monday, due to the complexity of the issues at hand and the huge amount of evidence presented.

If Rios Montt, 86, is ordered to stand trial, it will be the first genocide proceedings brought in the country over the 36-year civil war that ended in 1996, leaving an estimated 200,000 people dead, according to the UN.

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Some of the worst atrocities are said to have taken place during Rios Montt's iron-fisted rule, from March 1982 to August 1983.

The former general is known for his scorched earth campaign against people the government claimed were leftist rebels but were often in fact members of indigenous Maya communities who were not involved in the conflict.

Rios Montt, who has been under house arrest for the past year, is accused of orchestrating the massacre of more than 1,750 indigenous Ixil Maya people in Quiche department during his time in power.

His attorney Danilo Rodriguez has said his client is innocent and that the defense team would ask for the case to be dismissed.

Also accused are generals Jose Rodriguez, who appeared this week in a wheelchair, and Hector Lopez, who was absent from the courtroom.

Prosecutors say Rodriguez helped to draw up and carry out the policy that targeted Ixil Maya communities, in which entire villages were burned and their populations massacred.

Indigenous Maya communities make up a majority of the population in rural Guatemala.

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