[For excellent background on the case in Spanish, see the summary posted by the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos—CALDH), one of the organizations representing victims of the genocide.)
Judge Gálvez also rejected the defense team’s objections to the admissibility of army plans and records connected to Operation Sofía, a violent military assault in the Ixil Triangle in July and August of 1982 that resulted in the destruction of Mayan settlements and the killing of civilians. In justifying his decision, he pointed out that the Inter-American Court had ruled repeatedly that Guatemala could not withhold evidence from criminal human rights trials on the basis of “state secrets.” Among the cases cited by Gálvez was the court’s ruling in the 1990 assassination of Myrna Mack, “Caso Myrna Mack Chang v. Guatemala” (a sentence rendered on November 25, 2003), in which the court wrote:
…in the case of human rights violations, the state authorities cannot resort to mechanisms such as State secrets or the confidentiality of the information, or by virtue of public interest or national security, in order to avoid submitting information required by the judicial or administrative authorities charged with a pending investigation or process. [See paragraph 180]
The Operation Sofía documents and military plans admitted as evidence by Gálvez today are likely to play a central role in the prosecution’s effort to prove the accusations against Ríos Montt and Rodríguez Sánchez.
The genocide case now moves to the sentencing court, “Tribunal Primero A de Mayor Riesgo,” presided by Judge Jazmín Barrios. In the coming days, the tribunal will determine when the oral phase of the trial will begin – probably sometime in the next three to four months.
Judge Barrios has presided over some of the most important human rights trials in Guatemala, including the trials of military officers in the cases of the 1990 assassination of Myrna Mack, the murder of Bishop Juan José Gerardi in 1998, and the massacre cases Dos Erres and Plan de Sánchez.