After a theatrical show this morning where the defense lawyers for Mauricio Rodriquez Sanchez and Efrain Rios Montt, accused of genocide, stormed out of the court in “pacific resistance,” saying that the judge, Jazmin Barrios, was carrying out an illegal judicial process. This afternoon, judge Patricia Flores, ordered by the Constitutional Court which was initially presented with the legal recourse by the defense in January, ruled that the case must be annulled due to a failure to admit part of the defense’s evidence which occurred during the previous (intermediary) process. In short, the case will have to start again from November 23, 2011 when the first arrest warrants were issued for those responsible for genocide. http://nisgua.blogspot.com/2011/11/military-high-command-and-former.html

Clearly the members of the Association for Justice and Reconciliation and the Centre for Legal Action on Human Rights, plaintiffs in the case aren’t giving up but this is a clear obstacle to slow down the process. To date, over 100 witnesses have testified to what happened in the Ixil region during Rios Montt’s dictatorship when 1771 Maya Ixil men, women and children were massacred, tortured, kept as prisoners, raped and kept as sexual slaves. The defence presented a total of 5 witnesses, none of which presented compelling arguments to defend those accused. Others didn’t show up. Clearly, the defence was wasting time to slow down the process so that today’s decision, ordered by the CC (which, by the way, changed it’s President just this week) could happen.

We will send more information as soon as we have it. Earlier this week, an 19 page insert, “The farce of genocide” (see attached) was published claiming that the Catholic church and Marxists (and foreigners) were responsible for launching a campaign to continue the social violence in the country (i.e. it’s all a conspiracy). Later, 12 past cabinet members and other political figures published a paid ad (http://www.plazapublica.com.gt/sites/default/files/traicionar_la_paz_y_divdir_a_guatemala_0.pdf), expressing their opinion that “the accusation of genocide is a judicial fabrication that does not correspond to the longing of bereaved victims to dignify their loved ones.” They argue that the judicial process is an obstacle to reconciliation and lasting peace.

On Tuesday, another paid ad featured the image of an Ixil woman, identified as a former guerrilla, with the quote “They say that only the military killed lots of people, but that is not the truth, the guerrilla also killed lots of people because I saw it.” The ad was signed with the names of “Movement Guatemala Advances” (a previously unheard of organization), AVEMILGUA (the Association of Military Veterans of Guatemala, Rios Montt and Rodriguez Sanchez’s most staunch supporters) and the AJR (the Association for Justice and Reconciliation). The ad is an obvious attempt to convince the public of the defense’s argument that the armed conflict was a war between the military and the guerrilla and that “excesses” (their word for atrocities) were committed by both sides. What is especially significant about this ad is the use of the AJR’s name and logo, as they did not sign the ad. Yesterday, members of the AJR filed a complaint to the public prosecutor’s office, demanding an investigation into who is behind the forgery.

Such ads reflect the defense’s campaign to convince the public that genocide did not take place in Guatemala and that the current judicial process is nothing more than a campaign by the former guerrilla and their sympathizers to polarize the country and destroy the peace.

This may be a set back but those who have sought justice for 30 years will not be deterred. Our thoughts are with the brave victims who have worked tirelessly to bring this case forward.

Jackie and Laura