Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Rios Montt backers in prison rally

People hold a signs that read in Spanish 'there was no genocide in Guatemala' (AP/Luis Soto)

At least 500 people have protested outside a Guatemala prison against the genocide conviction of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt.

Supporters dressed in white and military garb shouted "Viva Rios Montt" outside the Matamoros prison where the ex-strongman was taken after he received a landmark 80-year sentence for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Demonstrators say the judicial process was corrupt and are demanding a higher court throw out the verdict. Protesters say prosecutors could not prove the state had a motive to kill 1,771 Maya.

A tribunal ruled on Friday that Rios Montt knew about the killings and did not stop the slaughter between 1982 and 1983, the height of Guatemala's brutal civil war.

It was the first genocide conviction given to a former Latin American ruler in his own country.