Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez ended a four-hour hearing today in the genocide trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt by accepting all of the witnesses, experts and documents submitted as evidence by the prosecution. The defense, by contrast, failed in its bid to incorporate experts and documentary evidence on behalf of their client, although the judge approved several defense witnesses.
The ruling signifies that the case will now advance to the Sentencing Tribunal for a decision on when to open the final, oral phase of the groundbreaking trial against the retired general and his intelligence chief, José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez.The oral phase of the trial should begin within the next three-to-four months in front of Judge Jazmín Barrios of the country's high risk court. Barrios is no stranger to high profile cases.
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.Maybe I'm too optimistic. I might place too much emphasis on these high profile convictions and a decreasing murder rate rather than on all the people who are not prosecuted (but should be) and all those who still die too early.