Guatemala ex-general on trial accused of genocide

Guatemala ex-general on trial accused of genocide

A former general accused of ordering the murder of more than 1,200 indigenous Ixil Maya people during Guatemala’s civil war has gone on trial.

Benedicto Lucas Garcia, 91, has been indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity – including widespread rape – and forced disappearances.

Survivors from one village say Garcia’s troops killed children, babies and the elderly.

He denies the charges.

The alleged crimes occurred between 1978 and 1982, when Garcia’s brother Fernando Romeo Lucas Garcia was president of Guatemala.

Benedicto Lucas Garcia is accused of planning and executing over 30 massacres in the western region of Quiche.

Lawyer Nery Rodenas, director of the Human Rights Office of the Archbishopric of Guatemala, told the AFP news agency that survivors had waited “more than 40 years” for justice.

Ex-general Garcia followed proceedings by video link from a military hospital, where he is already serving a prior sentence for forced disappearance, rape and torture. One co-defendant died in 2020, while another was found unfit to stand trial and will face separate proceedings.

Many Ixil Maya people were targeted by the military, accused of providing support to Marxist rebels.

Some 200,000 people died in the conflict, which lasted almost 40 years. Most were ethnic Maya.

Guatemala’s Supreme Court of Justice ruled in 2018 that acts of genocide had been committed against the Ixil people. But only a small number of low-ranking soldiers have been convicted of war crimes.

courtesy BBC