Friday, October 14, 2011

New genocide charges brought against military high command

José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, former Director of Military Intelligence under the de facto government of Efraín Rios Montt, has become the second person to be formally charged with genocide after he was arrested on October 12, 2011.

Rodríguez Sánchez is accused as an intellectual author of military counter-insurgency campaigns between 1982 and 1983, detailed in the military documents Plan Victoria 82, Plan Sofia and Plan Firmeza 83, that resulted in genocide against the Maya Ixil people.

In his role as director of the G-2, he served directly under Army Chief of Staff Hector Mario López Fuentes and Minister of Defense Oscar Humberto Mejía Víctores - the second and third in command under Rios Montt. On June 20th, 2011 López Fuentes became the first person in Guatemala to be formally indicted on charges of genocide against rural and indigenous populations during the internal armed conflict. State officials also issued an arrest warrant for Mejía Víctores yesterday, but he is now considered a fugitive from the law after evading arrest.  Authorities are also searching for former military intelligence official Luís Enrique Mendoza García, wanted on similiar charges.

Formal charges against Rodríguez Sánchez were presented on October 13th when the Public Prosecutor accused him of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in at least 71 different incidents.  He is accused of having orchestrated the violent death of at least 317 people, the cruel and inhumane treatment of the Ixil people, the use of torture, sexual violence, psychological operations and the destruction of sacred spaces. Amongst the charges, he is also being accused of forcibly displacing more than 29,000 people from 54 communities between 1982 and 1983, and systematically burning and destroying homes.

The arrests in the genocide case are the result of over a decade of work by CALDH (Center for Legal Action in Human Rights) and the AJR (Association for Justice and Reconciliation) to bring to justice the intellectual authors of crimes committed during the armed conflict. The sudden movement in this case and other high-profile cases can in part be attributed to the appointment of Claudia Paz y Paz as Attorney General in 2010.

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