[JURIST] The Congress of the Republic of Guatemala [official website, in Spanish] on Tuesday approved a non-binding resolution denying any existence of genocide during the civil war lasting from 1960-1996. The resolution [AP report] calls for national reconciliation and states: “It is legally impossible … that genocide could have occurred in our country’s territory during the armed conflict.” The Movement of victims of northern Quiche [backgrounder] allege that more than 250,000 people were killed during the civil war, predominately Guatemalan Indians and Mayans. Guatemala’s Congress approved the measure with 87 of the 158 members voting in favor, after the secretary general Luis Fernando Perez [official profile] proposed the resolution. Perez is a legislator for the party founded by ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt [JURIST news archive], who was convicted of genocide in May 2013.
Tuesday’s resolution marks renewed political activity surrounding the ongoing trial of former dictator Rios Montt in Guatemala. In November a Guatemalan court official announced [JURIST report] the genocide trial for Rios Montt would continue in January 2015. Last May Rios Montt was convicted [JURIST report] of the genocide, torture and rape of 1,771 indigenous Ixil Mayans during his 1982-83 rule and was sentenced to 80 years in prison. Ten days after his sentencing, the Guatemala Constitutional Court [official website, in Spanish] overturned [JURIST report] the sentence and ordered the trial to resume from the point that it was stopped on April 19. The constitutional court annulled the previous ruling because Rios Montt’s legal representation walked out of the court in protest of “illegal proceedings” and Rios Montt refused to use the public defender.