Guatemala was the scene of one of the most violent armed conflicts in Latin America between 1960 and 1996. More than 200,000 people were murdered, 45,000 people disappeared and over one million people were displaced. 93 per cent of these human rights violations were committed by state sponsored forces.
Some of the worst atrocities where committed in the early 1980s and under the dictatorship of General José Efraín Ríos Montt who was in power from 1982 to 1983.
In the Maya Ixil ethnic community alone, a total of 1,771 were reported murdered, amounting to 33% of their total population. 98% of these crimes remained in impunity after the peace agreement of 1996.
Thirteen years later, on 19 March 2013, General José Efraín Ríos Montt and his former chief of Military Intelligence, Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, were officially tried. It is the first time in the world that a former head of State faced charges of genocide in a national court. Over 100 witnesses, survivors and experts testified in the case.
On 10 May 2013 General Jose Efrain Rios Montt was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison, 50 years for the crime of genocide and 30 years for crimes against humanity.