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Prosecutors Seek 75-Year Sentence for U.S.-Backed Guatemalan Dictator Ríos Montt in Genocide Trial

Montt is charged with overseeing the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemala’s Ixil region after he seized power in 1982.

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But there are many people in the Guatemalan oligarchy, in the military, who don’t like it. They see this trial as a threat to their way of life, as a threat to their ability to continue to carry on local assassinations, which still happen in the Guatemalan countryside. In fact, as we speak, the president, General Pérez Molina, has imposed a state of siege in four municipalities to try to put down popular resistance against Canadian-U.S. silver mining projects.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you expect this verdict and sentence to actually happen today, and do you think it’s possible, 75 years?

ALLAN NAIRN: It could, if the trial is allowed to proceed without interference. It could—it could be put off until tomorrow. You can’t really predict what the verdict will be, but the prosecution has presented a very powerful, well-documented case, with the testimony of dozens upon dozens of massacre survivors, thousands of pages of documents. And Ríos Montt’s defense has not really put up a factual defense. Ríos Montt has refused to speak. They’ve just used politics, outside intervention, to try to kill the case.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you, Allan, for being with us. Allan Nairn, investigative journalist. If the verdict does come down, we’ll be going to Guatemala City tomorrow to cover the story. He was asked to testify in Guatemala in the landmark trial against the former U.S.-backed dictator, Efraín Ríos Montt, on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, though he ultimately didn’t testify. The trial could end today with a verdict and sentence. Go to our website at for the latest.

Before we go to credits, Juan, you will be going to  Philadelphia tomorrow.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yes, for the—tomorrow night is the opening of the last showing, premiering of the  Harvest of Empire film, and it will be at the Riverview Plaza Stadium 17 theaters. And I’ll be speaking after the 7:25 showing.


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