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First Guatemala civil war disappearance trial opens

[JURIST] The first trial of a defendant accused of involvement in "forced disappearances" during Guatemala's 36-year civil war [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] opened Monday. Felipe Cusanero, a former member of a civilian paramilitary unit, is alleged to have been responsible for the disappearances of at least six people from the farming village of Choatalum between 1982 and 1984. AP has more.

During the war, approximately 600,000 to 1.4 million Guatemalans worked with paramilitary units organized by the army to ferret out leftist guerillas. A UN-backed Guatemalan truth commission [background from Jeannette Rankin Library Program; report text] has concluded that the military was responsible for over 90 percent of all murders, disappearances, and other human rights abuses during Guatemala's civil war.

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