NISGUA continues live coverage of the trial in Guatemala of Efraín Rios Montt and Mauricio Rodriguez Sánchez for genocide crimes against humanity. See our archive of live Twitter updates at @NISGUA_Guate.
Read our previous summaries: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4/5 and full archive of ongoing live Twitter coverage.
The first hour and a half of court proceedings this morning were spent deliberating a number of motions filed by the defense. Danilo Rodríguez, who rejoined the defense team yesterday after a no-show on the first day of the trial, made several attempts to remove the judge and halt the process, all of which were denied. “I understand these motions filed against me as a strategy to suspend the process,” stated Judge Jazmin Barrios, “We are impartial judges and we don’t accept threats of any kind.”
Once testimonies began at 10am, eyewitnesses continued to share accounts of acts perpetrated by the military, led by former de facto President Efraín Ríos Montt and former intelligence chief José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez. Their testimony included vivid descriptions of massacres, life in the military’s model villages, and survival in the mountains fleeing from the persecution of the military. By the end of the day the total number of witnesses to have testified in the trial would reach 62, including the first witnesses to benefit from the assistance of a K’iche’ Maya translator. The majority of witnesses have testified in Ixil or Spanish, with native K’iche’ speaker Alberto Lopez offering testimony in Spanish during the first week of the trial due to the lack of a court-appointed K’iche’ translator.
A line of questioning has been put forth by the defense since the beginning of the trial implying manipulation or coercion of witnesses, or attempting to misconstrue the survivors’ legitimate concern for reparations. Witnesses have been asked, “Were you paid to be here today?”, “Why did you come today? Did they bring you? Did they tell you to come?”, “No one told you to come testify here today?” This is not the first time eyewitness testimony from the internal armed conflict has been questioned by a dominant society which disqualifies the voices of rural and indigenous people. Whether in response to questions from the defense or a long history of having their stories denied, witnesses have continually addressed this during their testimonies, as in these examples from our live Twitter coverage and courtroom transcription:
Pedro del Barrio Caba:
“We want…the authorities