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, 23, 24/25 and our full archive of ongoing live Twitter coverage.
News broke on day 25 that the genocide trial would move to conclusions that same day. After nearly three weeks of delays, public spectators and press rushed to fill the courtroom gallery Wednesday afternoon as word spread that Judge Barrios had in fact ordered closing arguments.
Public Prosecutor Orlando López set the stage for prosecution closing arguments with an in-depth multimedia presentation summarizing all trial evidence. Public prosecutor López systematized eyewitness testimonies exposing the quantitative conclusions from witnesses accounts of torture, murder, and violence.
Of 94 witnesses, 82 said army burned their homes, 74 said they burned homes in other communities, 54 declared robbing of animals.
— NISGUA (@NISGUA_Guate) May 8, 2013
Public prosecutor López’s systematization of testimonial evidence reveals patterns. The atrocities committed were not isolated events. Of 94 eyewitnesses, 94 declared at least one member of their family was killed by the Guatemalan military. López faced the judges confidently, “I don’t think anyone can doubt the declarations we heard.”
López further analyzed military documents incorporated as trial evidence. Citing Plan Victoria 82, Plan Sofía, the National Development Plan and Quilo Ayuso’s expert testimony he concluded the military defined the Ixil people as an internal enemy, accused of supporting the guerrilla and thus considered subversives. The Guatemalan National Development Plan describes the military’s strategic planning with the objective to destroy the Maya Ixil. Respectively, the planning and operations are elaborated as elimination and extermination, and annihilation and control. López focused on the evidence as it reveals the purpose and intention to commit the crime of genocide.
The public prosecutor concluded his closing arguments requesting Ríos Montt and Rodríguez Sánchez be found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity and be given the maximum sentence for these crimes: 75 years.
Prosecution closing arguments continued on day 26. Prosecution lawyer Edgar Pérez opened the morning reflecting on the importance of the genocide trial, “This process is historic.”
Pérez elaborated on the right to access justice and referred to Guatemala’s “dark history,” a history of criminalization and persecution of human rights defenders,