April 29, 2013 / 11:22 PM / in 6 years

Guatemala judge looks set to restart Rios Montt trial - lawyers

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - A Guatemalan judge is likely to order the resumption of the genocide trial of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, sources at the attorney general’s office and a human rights lawyer said on Monday.

Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt (C) leaves after a hearing in the Supreme Court of Justice in Guatemala City April 26, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

The trial has been up in the air after judges squabbled over who should hear the case following an order to annul nearly 18 months of proceedings.

Hector Reyes, a lawyer who represents a human rights advocacy group pressing the case against Rios Montt, said Judge Yasmin Barrios had convened attorneys for a meeting on Tuesday morning.

“I think they are going to start the trial from where they left off on April 18,” he said.

Sources at the attorney general’s office also said Barrios would likely restart the trial from the point at which she suspended it in April, just days before closing arguments were scheduled to begin.

Another judge had sought to rewind proceedings to the stage they were at in November 2011, and void all developments since then.

Rios Montt, 86, is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for a counterinsurgency plan conceived under his 1982-1983 rule that killed 1,771 members of the Ixil indigenous group in one of the bloodiest phases of Guatemala’s civil war.

His trial was hailed as a landmark in efforts to bring justice for victims of the 1960-1996 civil war. It took years to set in motion after Rios Montt’s lawyers repeatedly delayed efforts to make the retired general stand trial.

More than 100 witnesses have recounted painful tales of rape, torture and arson during the trial, which opened on March 19.

Defence lawyers and military expert witnesses have argued Rios Montt, had no control over battlefield operations and that genocide was never the idea behind his military campaign.

Editing by Simon Gardner and Bill Trott

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