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Former Guatemalan dictator nominated for congressional seat

Former Guatemalan dictator nominated for congressional seat

Former dictator Efrain Rios Montt was formally nominated Saturday by his Guatemalan Republican Front party for a seat in Congress, which could make it harder to prosecute him on charges of violating human rights during the country's 36-year civil war.
Members of Guatemala's Congress enjoy immunity from prosecution unless they are suspended from office by a court.
On Friday, 31 U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to Guatemala's attorney general asking him to move quickly to arrest Rios Montt on outstanding warrants for genocide and torture issued by Spanish Judge Santiago Pedraz before the ex-dictator gains immunity.
That could occur as early as Thursday, when registration for candidates in the Sept. 9 elections opens. Registered candidates are also granted immunity.
Given the strength of his party, Rios Montt is almost assured of election for a term that would run from 2008 to 2012.
"His historic leadership put him at the top of the national list (of congressional candidates), and he will preside over the Congress," said Republican Front leader Aristes Crespo.
A Guatemalan court is still considering whether to order the arrest of Rios Montt for crimes allegedly committed while he ran the country from 1982 to 1983. Rios Montt has denied any wrongdoing.
Rios Montt ruled during what was considered the bloodiest period of Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war, in which 200,000, mostly Mayan Indians, were killed or disappeared.
The Spanish case stems from charges levied in Spanish courts by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rigoberta Menchu against five ex-military officials and three ex-government officials in the disappearance of Spanish priests and a fire at the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City that killed Menchu's father and 36 others.


Updated : 2021-04-18 14:21 GMT+08:00