Headline — 09 April 2013 — by Adele Ramos
Guatemalan president in hot water!

Otto Perez Molina is accused of human rights atrocities while commander of troops in Salquil Grande, Nebaj, Quiche

During the first genocide trial in Guatemala’s history, in which former de facto ruler Jose Efrain Rios Montt (1982-1983) has been accused of human rights atrocities, Guatemala’s current president, Otto Perez Molina, was also named on Thursday, April 4, 2013, by Hugo Ramiro Leonardo Reyes, an ex-soldier, who alleged, via videoconference testimony, that Perez Molina had ordered soldiers to burn and loot villages, and execute indigenous tribes while he was commander of troops in Salquil Grande, Nebaj, Quiche.

Reuters reported that Pérez Molina has immunity from prosecution because of his high rank in Guatemala.

According to a posting on the website of the Guatemalan government, its defense minister, General Ulises Anzueto, has denied the allegations made in the hearing against Perez Molina by the protected witness in the genocide trial.

The allegations, which the general said were inconsistent and unsubstantiated, are intended to impact the image of the president and the armed forces, he told Notimex.

The general said that the armed forces support any such investigation into the alleged atrocities, including reports of domestic war crimes spanning 36 years (1960 to 1996), which are said to have resulted in 200,000 missing or dead, including those killed by decapitation.

According to a report documented at http://www.riosmontt-trial.org, “Reyes also identified officials in charge at other military installations where torture and executions occurred in Nebaj (Arnoldo Otoniel Lopez, Pedro Diaz, and Luis Felipe Ruano) and Tzalbal (Mario Rene and Juan Chiroy Sal). Reyes testified: ‘As far as I could tell, the order was: “Indian seen, Indian dead” (Indio visto, indio muerto).’”

The Rios Montt case dates back to January 2012. It was initiated after he lost immunity from prosecution.

Rios Montt, 86, became president after a coup d’etat on March 23, 1982, and he remained in that position for 16 months, until August 8, 1983, when he was likewise overthrown by then Minister of Defense, Oscar Humberto Mejia Victores.

Rios Montt has been indicted along with Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, 67, who served as Director of Military Intelligence (G-2) under Rios Montt and is similarly charged with genocide and crimes against humanity.

Thursday marked the 10th day of the trial, which commenced last month, March. Tico Times said that Ríos Montt and former military intelligence chief José Rodríguez are on trial for the massacre of 1,771 Ixil Mayan villagers from 1982-1983, the bloodiest years of the war.

International news reports indicate that prosecutors accuse them of ordering 15 massacres between 1982 and 1983 in the northwestern region of Quiche.

The trial may span several weeks.

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