Hugo Reyes, who was stationed as an army engineer in a violent region of Guatemala under Rios Montt's 1982-1983 rule, said Perez commanded soldiers who burned down homes and shot and killed civilians during the civil war, which pitted leftist insurgents against a series of right-wing governments.
Perez, a retired army general who was elected president in 2011, was also known as major Tito Arias during the civil war and has previously denied involvement in war crimes.
Taking the stand, Reyes said he witnessed the killing of farmers near the village of Nebaj in north-western Guatemala by troops under the command of Perez and another officer.
"The soldiers under the orders of Major Tito Arias, known as Otto Perez Molina, Francisco Marin, and the officers they were in charge of, and the commander of the company of engineers, coordinated the burning (of homes) and pulling people out so they could execute them," Reyes told the court.The truth is good but I'm not quite sure whether this information is helpful at this point in time.
On the one hand, the trial is about the alleged intellectual authors of the genocide and other crimes against humanity - Efraín Rios Montt and Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sánchez. Distracting the court from the two accused is probably not helpful. I fear that the testimony might increase the perception that the trial is a political one and not a legal one.
On the other hand, this trial is about more than the two accused. It is not just about those who designed the military's plans but it is also about those at the highest levels who willfully executed those plans and who profited, personally and/or financially, from their actions. In that sense, the trial is about the president.