Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Judge in Rios Montt genocide trial steps down

Carol Patricia Flores stepped down as the judge overseeing Efrain Rios Montt's genocide case. (AP, Prensa Libre)

The removal stemmed from a complaint filed by Hector Mario Lopez Fuentes' defense lawyers in November. Lopez was the army chief of staff under Rios Montt. His lawyers accused the judge of being biased against Lopez..

The judge was about to convoke a hearing to determine whether charges against Rios Montt should be dropped because of the amnesty law passed back in the 1980s shortly before the return to civilian rule. The new judge, Miguel Angel Galvez, postponed Tuesday's hearing until March 1st but did say that the charges against Rios Montt as well as the conditions of his bail and house arrest, remain in place  .

I would have preferred that Carol Patricia Flores had stayed on in the case. It's a little too early to see this as an ominous sign of things to come, but if there's one place where I was worried where we would see a reversal under a Perez Molina administration, it would be in the area of prosecuting human rights violators.

I'm not saying that he has directly influenced the court's decision in any way. However, one can expect judges and lawyers to approach their jobs somewhat differently when working under a president who denies that genocide or crimes against humanity occurred than when one operates under a president who apologizes for crimes of the state.

2 comments:

  1. To be fair to Pérez Molina, the initial charges and move to trial were under his new administration.

    This could well be an individual decision by the judge. It gets her off the hook of the trial, she has two motions against her from Lopez Fuentes and a complaint that she waited two hours to "sentence" Rios Montt after she found he had a case to answer.

    Plus there's allegations she didn't give him his right to due process which is ludicrous given he refused to testify in his defence at the hearing.

    Given all those factors, especially her security, it could well be a personal decision.

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  2. I tried to give Perez Molina and the process the benefit of the doubt. Nic, do you have any information on the relationship between Perez Molina and Rios Montt for the last fifteen or so years? Most of what we read is about how Perez backed the coup to remove Rios Montt in 1983.

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