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Guatemala court says no Spain extradition for ex-dictator facing genocide charges

[JURIST] A Guatemalan court has ruled that former dictator Efrain Rios Montt and other high ranking military officers cannot be extradited to Spain where they have been charged [JURIST report] with genocide, torture, and other crimes against humanity. In last week's decision, which was not made public until Monday, the court said that Spain does not have jurisdiction over crimes committed during Guatemala's 36-year civil war [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; BBC timeline]. The Spanish case was filed by Guatemalan Nobel Peace Price winner Rigoberta Menchu [Nobel profile] in 1999, based on allegations that Montt and other leaders were responsible for atrocities committed during the civil war, including the murder of eight Spanish priests and a 1980 military assault on the Spanish Embassy that killed 37 people, including Menchu's father.

The Spanish National Court took jurisdiction of the case in 2006 after the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled [JURIST reports] in 2005 that Spanish courts can exercise universal jurisdiction over war crimes committed during Guatemala's civil war. The Constitutional Court decided that universal jurisdiction outweighed national interest in cases of genocide. National Court Judge Santiago Pedraz issued arrest and extradition warrants in 2006, and at that time, Montt dismissed the warrants as unfounded [JURIST report].
VOA has more. AP has additional coverage.

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