2013-05-09. On day 26 of the Genocide Trial, Rios Montt Finally Declares.

Guatemala City, Guatemala.

May 9, 2013.

On the 26th day of the historic Genocide trial against former de facto head of state Efrain Rios Montt and his Head of Intelligence Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, the prosecution and defense gave their closing statements and the main accused, Rios Montt, finally declared.

The prosecution lawyers await for the start of the proceedings.

Rios Montt enters the courtroom.

Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez (right) talks with defense lawyer Francisco Garcia Gudiel.

Ixil Mayan women receive radios for simultaneous translation from Spanish to Ixil.

The defense team has a laugh with Rios Montt.

Edgar Perez, prosecution lawyer, declares during his closing statement: “Did the Ixil civilians die in combat? No. They were executed. The [army] attacked children, women, elderly, men, all of whom were unarmed… without clothing… without a roof. We are faced with a transcendental international event. A strong sentence must be dictated.”

Defense lawyer Francisco Garcia Gudiel.

Former de facto head of state Efrain Rios Montt takes the stand.

Rios Montt declares: “I never ordered attacks against any race, ethnic or religious group. I never did… I presented myself voluntarily after the order of arrest was issued because I did not commit genocide and I refuse to be called as such.”

Human rights activists Marylena Bustamante (left) and Iduvina Hernandez watch Rios Montt during his declaration.

Congresswoman Zury Rios.

Among defense lawyer Garcia Gudiel’s closing arguments were xenophobic and racist statements where he deemed the United Nations was to blame for interference with Guatemalan internal affairs: “Why does that chinito (equivalent to chink in English) from the United Nations (referring to Korean Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon) send people from the UN here to Guatemala?! He probably does not even know where Guatemala is! The internal problems of Guatemala can be solved by us Guatemalans. We don’t need gringo hippies here who are only parasitic and live off international aid!”

Defense lawyer Francisco Palomo listens to Garcia Gudiel.

Francisco Soto, executive director of the Center for the Legal Action of Human Rights (CALDH, in Spanish), declares in his closing statement: “We’ve been struggling for justice for 30 years. This isn’t violence, it isn’t vengeance, it’s a right. This is an important moment of historic memory for our country. If we forget, we are condemned to repeat.”

Ixil men wearing traditional hats leave the courtroom. Judge Barrios should issue a sentence on Friday, May 10th, unless unexpected events delay the trial.

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