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Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt faces trial for genocide

Efrain Rios Montt came to power in a coup and oversaw some of Guatemala's most atrocious civil war crimes.

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    Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt speaks with the media after a judge placed him under house arrest, at the Supreme Court of Justice in Guatemala City on Thursday. Rios Montt appeared in court on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity as the Central American nation seeks to close files on a brutal 36-year civil war.
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• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, centralamericanpolitics.blogspot.com. The views expressed are the author's own.

On Thursday, Efrain Rios Montt appeared in a Guatemalan court on genocide charges. During the hearing, the government presented evidence of over 100 incidents involving at least 1,771 deaths, 1,445 rapes, and the displacement of nearly 30,000 Guatemalans during his 17-month rule from 1982-1983, according to the Washington Post, BBC, Siglo XXI (in Spanish), and the LA Times.

Rios Montt did not speak during today's hearings, but it looks like he will be able to test his "I was never on the battlefield" defense. Tonight, judge Carol Patricia Flores determined that there is enough evidence to try Rios Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The prosecution wanted him incarcerated because of his potential for flight but the judge ruled that he can remain out on bail. He has now been placed under house arrest and will be watched by the Guatemalan National Civil Police (PNC).

A tremendous victory for the people of Guatemala and a continuation of what I believe has been a pretty remarkable year-plus of human rights advancement in the region.

–– Mike Allison is an associate professor in the Political Science Department and a member of the Latin American and Women's Studies Department at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.  You can follow his Central American Politics blog here.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of Latin America bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

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