A Formal Legal Mandate for a Criminal Investigation of Guatemala's Current President, Perez Molina

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by
Allan Nairn

A Formal Legal Mandate for a Criminal Investigation of Guatemala's Current President, Perez Molina

by
Allan Nairn

General Efrain Rios Montt has been found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. He has already begun his "irrevocable" sentence of 80 years in prison.

The court that convicted Rios Montt has also ordered the attorney general to launch an immediate investigation of "all others" connected to the crimes.

This important and unexpected aspect of the verdict means that there now exists a formal legal mandate for a criminal investigation of the President of Guatemala, General Otto Perez Molina.

As President, Perez Molina enjoys temporary legal immunity, but that immunity does not block the prosecutors from starting their investigation.

Last night, in a live post-verdict interview on CNN Espanol TV, Perez Molina was confronted about his own role during the Rios Montt massacres.

The interviewer, Fernando del Rincon, repeatedly asked Perez Molina about his filmed interviews with me when he was Rios Montt's Ixil field commander.

At that time, Perez Molina, operating under the alias "Major Tito Arias," commanded troops who described to me how, under orders, they killed civilians.

At first, Perez Molina refused to answer, then CNN's satellite link to him was cut off, then, after it was restored minutes later, Perez Molina replied that women, children and "complete families" had in fact aided guerrillas.

Offering what appears to be a rationale for killing families may not be a sufficient defense. But that is up to Perez Molina.

He too deserves his day in court.

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