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Jailed Rios Montt taken to hospital after fainting

Monday - 5/13/2013, 9:38pm  ET

Guatemala's former dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt wears headphones as he listens to the verdict in his genocide trial in Guatemala City, Friday, May 10, 2013. The Guatemalan court convicted Rios Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, sentencing him to 80 years in prison. The 86-year-old former general is the first former Latin American leader ever found guilty of such a charge. The war between the government and leftist rebels cost more than 200,000 lives and ended in peace accords in 1996. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)

SONIA PEREZ DIAZ
Associated Press

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- Former dictator Efrain Rios Montt was taken to a military hospital Monday after fainting while on his way to a court hearing from his jail cell, Guatemalan authorities said.

Prison system spokesman Rudy Esquivel said it would be up to a judge to decide when Rios Montt would go back to the Matamoros prison.

Rios Montt was sent to prison Friday after receiving an 80-year sentence for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Esquivel didn't give any details on Rios Montt's health problems.

Defense lawyer Garcia Gudiel said the former dictator suffers from high blood pressure and prostate and spinal cord problems. He said the 86-year-old former general hadn't been feeling well since Sunday.

Rios Montt was scheduled to attend a hearing Monday on reparations for the victims of the military offensives tied to the crimes he was sentenced for.

Rios Montt was convicted in the killings of 1,771 Ixil Mayans in military operations during Guatemala's civil war.

The tribunal ruled that Rios Montt knew about the killings and didn't stop the slaughter between 1982 and 1983, the height of the fighting.

It was the first genocide conviction given to a former Latin American ruler in his own country.

The tribunal ruled that as part of "dignified reparations," Guatemala's current president, defense minister and the presidents of Congress and the judicial system will have to publicly apologize to the nation and then travel to each of the communities affected and apologize again.

The judges also ordered that March 23 be a "day against genocide," since it was on March 23, 1982, that Rios Montt took power after a coup.

President Otto Perez Molina said he wouldn't have a problem apologizing for the crimes of the past governments.

"I have been willing to do it for many years, since the peace accords," Perez Molina said. "I don't have a problem. I have always been close to the Ixil people and would do it gladly."

Perez Molina, however, refuses to acknowledge that genocide took place. In an interview Friday with CNN's Spanish-language channel he said that there was no genocide despite the ruling being seen as the country's first official acknowledgement that one took place.

"When I said that Guatemala has seen no genocide, I repeat it now after this ruling," Perez Molina said.


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