Closing arguments have begun in the historic trial against U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efra\u00c3\u00adn R\u00c3\u00ados Montt, the first head of state in the Americas to stand trial for genocide. R\u00c3\u00ados Montt is charged with overseeing the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemala\u2019s Ixil region after he seized power in 1982. The trial has been revived after it was suspended due to intervention by Guatemalan President Otto P\u00c3\u00a9rez Molina and death threats by army associates against judges and prosecutors. On Wednesday, prosecutors asked for R\u00c3\u00ados Montt to be sentenced to 75 years in prison. Defense lawyers are expected to give closing arguments today. We\u2019re joined by investigative journalist Allan Nairn in Guatemala City. In the 1980s, Nairn extensively documented broad army responsibility for the massacres.AMY GOODMAN: We go from Chicago to Guatemala. Juan?JUAN GONZ\u00c3\u0081LEZ: Well, we end today\u2019s show with an update on the historic trial against U.S.-backed Guatemalan\u2014former Guatemalan dictator Efra\u00c3\u00adn R\u00c3\u00ados Montt. He is the first head of state in the Americas to stand trial for genocide. The trial had been suspended but has since been revived. R\u00c3\u00ados Montt is charged with overseeing the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemala\u2019s Ixil region after he seized power in 1982. On Wednesday, prosecutors asked for R\u00c3\u00ados Montt to be sentenced to 75 years in prison. R\u00c3\u00ados Montt\u2019s defense team is expected to give closing arguments today.AMY GOODMAN: During the trial, Guatemala\u2019s current president, Otto P\u00c3\u00a9rez Molina, was also directly accused of ordering executions during Guatemala\u2019s decades-long campaign against the Maya indigenous people. A former military mechanic named Hugo Reyes told the court President P\u00c3\u00a9rez Molina, then serving as an army major and using the name Tito Arias, ordered soldiers to burn and pillage a Maya Ixil area in the 1980s.We\u2019re going now to Guatemala City to Allan Nairn, investigative journalist. In the 1980s, Allan Nairn extensively documented broad army responsibility for the massacres and was prepared to present evidence at the trial, though he didn\u2019t ultimately testify.Allan, welcome back to Democracy Now! Tell us what\u2019s happening today. You expect a verdict and a sentence?ALLAN NAIRN: It\u2019s possible. The trial\u2014the trial was killed, essentially, after intervention by Guatemala\u2019s president on April 18th, but now it apparently is on the verge of being revived. There was a fierce backlash against the efforts by the president, General P\u00c3\u00a9rez Molina, to stop the trial, resistance from within Guatemala, also internationally. And yesterday afternoon, the trial got back to business. They began closing statements. The prosecutors presented their request for a 75-year sentence R\u00c3\u00ados Montt and also that he be taken from house arrest and placed in jail to prevent him from fleeing the country after the verdict.It\u2019s possible a verdict could come today, but it\u2019s also possible that it could be\u2014the trial could be shut down at the last minute. There have been repeated death threats against judges and prosecutors. Yesterday, R\u00c3\u00ados Montt\u2019s lawyer, in open court, threatened to have the judges thrown in jail. A higher court could be used politically to kill the case at the last moment. So it\u2019s really hanging in the balance. The case could be finished off today, or it could be allowed to reach a verdict.JUAN GONZ\u00c3\u0081LEZ: And, Allan, the significance of this case? Is R\u00c3\u00ados Montt the first former head of state tried within his own country for genocide?ALLAN NAIRN: Yes, and this is being done within the domestic court system. It\u2019s been a tremendous political struggle. It\u2019s been led by the survivors of the massacres. They\u2019ve been fighting for this for decades. And they\u2019re on the brink of getting a verdict, of actually enforcing the murder laws.But there are many people in the Guatemalan oligarchy, in the military, who don\u2019t 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 P\u00c3\u00a9rez 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\u2019s possible, 75 years?ALLAN NAIRN: It could, if the trial is allowed to proceed without interference. It could\u2014it could be put off until tomorrow. You can\u2019t 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 R\u00c3\u00ados Montt\u2019s defense has not really put up a factual defense. R\u00c3\u00ados Montt has refused to speak. They\u2019ve 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\u2019ll 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, Efra\u00c3\u00adn R\u00c3\u00ados Montt, on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, though he ultimately didn\u2019t testify. The trial could end today with a verdict and sentence. Go to our website at democracynow.org for the latest.Before we go to credits, Juan, you will be going to Philadelphia tomorrow.JUAN GONZ\u00c3\u0081LEZ: Yes, for the\u2014tomorrow 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\u2019ll be speaking after the 7:25 showing.