There’s been a lot of excitement in the U.S. this week, and there will more updates/analysis on that coming soonish, but plenty of news has been going down in the rest of the world as well. Here’s some info on that in Guatemala.
In a surprising twist on Thursday, an appeals court in Guatemala suspended the trial of Efrain Rios Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
The decision calls into question the independence of the judiciary. In particular, there are allegations that the current president, General Otto Perez Molina, intervened to end the trial when it became clear that testimony would implicate him in the crimes committed against the ethnic Mayan groups in Guatemala.
Perez Molina was an officer in the army under Rios Montt, although at the time he was using the pseudonym Major Tito Arias.
As the first former military officer to be elected president since Guatemala’s civil war, Perez Molina did cause some Guatemalans and members of the international community to fear that he would prevent trials against members of the military. When Rios Montt’s trial began, some thought those fears were proved to be unfounded. Unfortunately, it seems that is not the case.
The trial was suspended only hours before a verdict was set to be handed down, and apparently after weeks of threats and bribe offers failed to halt the trial instead.
But the latest word out of Guatemala is that the judge in the Rios Montt case has pledged that the trial will continue, calling the suspension “illegal.”
Guatemala’s Constitutional Court will make a final decision on that front soon.