Efrain Rios Montt was only 17 months in Guatemala – but this time in the early 1980s is considered the most devastating in the already bloody civil war. Now the ex-dictator died at the age of 91 years.
The former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt is dead. He died yesterday at the age of 91, according to his lawyer “calm and in peace” of a heart failure. He was under house arrest in his apartment.
Rios Montt had seized power in 1982 and tried to fight the Marxist guerrillas with a scorched earth tactic. That led to one of the bloodiest sections of the civil war in the country. The then US President Ronald Reagan still called the evangelical lay preacher a man of “great personal integrity”.
After 17 months, Rios Montt was overthrown in 1983 by another military coup. He remained politically active and ran again in 2003 in democratic elections for president. However, Rios Montt failed.
In 2013, Rios Montt was convicted of massacres of 1771 Indians during his reign of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to 80 years in prison. However, the ruling was overturned for irregularities and a new trial was ordered. It began in October 2017 but was suspended because its lawyers argued that the elderly defendant was too senile to follow the process.
In the 36-year civil war, 200,000 people were killed in Guatemala, according to the UN. The UN came to a 1999 investigation into genocide in Guatemala. By far the most war crimes were committed between 1978 and 1984.