NISGUA continues live coverage of the trial in Guatemala of Efraín Ríos Montt and José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Read our previous summaries: Day 1, 2, 3, 4/5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11-14, 12, 13/14, 15/16, 17/18, 19, 20-1, 20-2, 21, Constitutional Court decisions, trial suspension, Day 22 and our full archive of ongoing live Twitter coverage.
A complex entanglement of legal motions in lower and higher courts has plagued the genocide trial proceedings since they were halted on April 19. For great legal background we recommend, in particular the postings on legal battles during the temporary trial suspension, appeals court rulings earlier this week and Constitutional rulings yesterday. Expect analysis on additional rulings issued today on the RiosMontt-Trial blog tomorrow.
Yesterday, May 7, the genocide trial proceedings were the shortest yet, clocking in at just under 30 minutes due to the absence of Ríos Montt defense lawyer Francisco García Gudiel. García Gudiel called in sick to the courtroom, telling the court secretary he was “gravely ill”.
Today started with the reappearance of two lawyers who participated in the April 19 walkout: Cesar Calderón for José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez and Francisco Palomo for Efraín Ríos Montt. Despite multiple requests to be removed from the case once Calderón was reinstated as Rodríguez Sánchez’ lawyer, public defender Otto Ramírez was not removed from the defense. Judge Barrios indicated the need to ensure continuity in the event Calderón abandoned the defense once again.
Proceedings continued with a long and heated argument by Gudiel, touching on legal points ranging from the recusal of Judges Barrios and Xitumal to the annulment of yesterday’s proceedings because he was not present due to illness.

Gudiel: “I’m enough of a big boy to tolerate kidney stones,” referring to calling in sick to #GenocideGT trial yesterday.
— NISGUA (@NISGUA_Guate) May 8, 2013

Before the judges could move to deliberations, public prosecutor Orlando López interjected with a surprising announcement:

Pub prosecutor announces has video of defense lawyer Gudiel at the Public Ministry yesterday, contradicting his claims he was gravely ill.
— NISGUA (@NISGUA_Guate) May 8, 2013

The audience then viewed date/time-stamped videos and stills showing Gudiel walking without difficulty. The prosecution argued against Gudiel’s motion to annul yesterday’s proceedings, as well as the point of recusal.
After deliberating, the judges ruled against Gudiel stating the trial proceedings would move forward. What followed was a tirade from Gudiel that stunned courtroom observers and later prompted a complaint to be filed before the Guatemalan Bar Association.

Gudiel raises his voice to judges in #GenocideGT trial: I warn you..I won’t rest until I see you in prison.
— NISGUA (@NISGUA_Guate) May 8, 2013

Gudiel yells in #GenocideGT trial: You must suspend this debate, I say to the world, Listen! The sentence says this trial must be suspended!
— NISGUA (@NISGUA_Guate) May 8, 2013

Gudiel is now all out screaming at judges & waving his hands in the #GenocideGT trial.
— NISGUA (@NISGUA_Guate) May 8, 2013

Gudiel yells again: I say publically, I will not rest until I see you all charged.
— NISGUA (@NISGUA_Guate) May 8, 2013

Gudiel spews at #GenocideGT judges: You don’t deserve to be in your positions..What kind of principles did they teach you.
— NISGUA (@NISGUA_Guate) May 8, 2013

The judges, after calmly listening to Gudiel, address the court.

Barrios reminds lawyers of professional code of ethics, “All human beings deserve respect…lawyers have to respect these norms and ethics.”
— NISGUA (@NISGUA_Guate) May 8, 2013

After deliberating Judge Barrios stated, “It’s important to state we don’t accept threats of any kind…We don’t accept threats of any kind because we believe in judicial independence.” They once again reject Gudiel’s motion and order the trial to continue after the lunch recess.
Upon return from the lunch hour, Judge Barrios asked for the defense to present their final witnesses. Habitually unable to provide them when called upon, the defense once again offered reasons why they didn’t have witnesses ready, asking for a continuance until the morning. The judges did not accept the requests attempting to delay the trial further, stating the defense has had ample opportunities to present their witnesses as well as an obligation to have their evidence ready starting at the beginning of the trial. It is important to note 94 Ixil survivors travelled great distances to give their testimony at the start of the trial, without delaying the proceedings.
Then, incredibly, Judge Barrios asked the public prosecutor’s office to present their closing arguments. After almost three weeks of delays, dashed and then revitalized hopes, legal battles and suspended hearings, the genocide trial moved into the conclusions phase, a stage in the trial process many had both expected and doubted would ever happen.
Public prosecutor Orlando López’ closing arguments began by outlining Ríos Montt’s consolidation of state power, with an analysis particularly relevant to current events taking place in Guatemala.

Relevant to today: Public Prosecutor qualifies the months #RiosMontt was in power as a state of siege.
— NISGUA (@NISGUA_Guate) May 8, 2013

A presentation displayed to the court provided analysis of the military’s Counterinsurgency Manual, Plan Victoria 82 and Plan Sofía documents, the National Development Plan and defense witness Quilo Ayuso’s testimony. This included an outline of the military’s structure and chain of command, high military command’s planning and operations strategies, as well as communications structures to show the defendants were aware of the implementation of their plans. The public prosecutor discussed the military’s definition of the Ixil people as an internal enemy of state, the use of sexual violence and the forced transfer of Ixil children. In addition to document evidence, López provided a summary of the 94 eyewitness testimonies heard during the first weeks of the trial and the forensic anthropology evidence submitted.
We will be publishing in-depth coverage of the prosecution’s concluding arguments soon; stay tuned.
The public prosecutor’s arguments concluded with the request that Efraín Ríos Montt and José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez be found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity and given the maximum sentence of 75 years.
Tomorrow civil plaintiffs from the survivor organization AJR (Association for Justice and Reconciliation) and CALDH (Center for Human Rights Legal Action) will each have two hours to provide their closing arguments, at which time the concluding statements from the defense will be heard. After conclusions, the plaintiffs and defendants will be given the opportunity to make requests of the court. It is anticipated that AJR President Benjamin Jerónimo will make a statement on behalf of the victims and survivors.
NISGUA has provided human rights accompaniment to the witness organization, the Association for Justice and Reconciliation, and their lawyers, the Center for Human Rights Legal Action since 2000. We will continue to bear witness to the truth and bravery of these survivors throughout this historic trial. To bear witness with us, stay tuned to our ongoing live Twitter coverage @NISGUA_Guate, like our Facebook page and sign up for email updates