On March 25, 2024, the first hearing of the Oral and Public Debate was held against former General Benedicto Lucas García, for the crimes of genocide, sexual violence and crimes against humanity, committed during the dictatorship of his brother Romeo Lucas García (1978-1982).

Ancestral Indigenous Authorities of the Ixil people of Nebaj and Chajul, representatives of the National Platform of Victims, CONAVIGUA, along with members of other religious, social and human rights organizations, were present to support the plaintiffs,the Association for Justice and Reconciliation, and their legal team. Before entering the Courtroom, an indigenous ceremony was held at the Human Rights Plaza.

At the beginning of the hearing, presided over by the First Sentencing Court for High Risk processes of Group A, it was announced that the two lawyers of Benedicto Lucas García resigned from the defense of the accused- the latter, last Friday. This is a tactic of delay that those accused of genocide have employed in the past, such as in the case of Rios Montt.   

The court subsequently proceeded to assign a lawyer from the Instituto de la Defensa Pública Penal (IDPP), who will have – according to the law – 5 days to familiarize herself with  the case. The IDPP attorney initially requested a month to familiarize herself with the case- another example of the ongoing tactics of delay. 

Finally, the court suspended the hearing and scheduled the hearing to continue on April 5, 2024. 

NISGUA condemns the continual attempts to delay the case by Lucas Garcia’s defense. These constitute another example of their repeated attempts to evade justice. 

According to the president of the AJR:

“It is worrisome this has happened. We have seen this same strategy several times, and we are especially concerned about the witnesses who traveled from the Ixil region, who decided to come to testify and want to see the start of this trial.  And unfortunately, another date has been set.”

After the closing of the hearing, the attendees returned to the Plaza to hear information from the legal team, as well as closing remarks from representatives of some of the organizations present. Attorney Jovita Tzul commented:

“The judge summoned the hearing (…) we are going to restart the debate with all the warnings that the judge made, on April 5 at 8:30. This will be the formal start of the debate, and we hope that on that day, we will be able to hear the witnesses who came on this occasion.”

Diego Ceto of the Ancestral Indigenous Authorities of the Ixil people of Nebaj expressed the following:

“As Ixiles we are going to continue persisting in the search for justice. In Guatemala it is very difficult to find the truth. We have said several times that as Ixiles we do not want revenge; we want the new generations to know what happened in Guatemala and that it will not happen again. We as authorities have always stood in solidarity with this case.”

We invite you to continue to keep up to date with the development of this trial.