Guatemala ex-intel chief acquitted on 1980s genocide charges

Former director of military intelligence, Jose Rodriguez Sanchez leaves a courtroom after his statement in Guatemala City, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. Rodriguez Sanchez awaits a new sentence for the crime of genocide, for which he was previously tried along with the late former dictator Efrain Rios Montt in 2013. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Guatemalan court has absolved the late dictator Efrain Rios Montt’s former intelligence chief of 1980s civil war rights abuses for a second time.

In a 2-1 decision, the tribunal ruled late Wednesday that Jose Mauricio Rodriguez will not see prison for genocide and crimes against humanity.

The justices unanimously held that the abuses were committed by the military, but disagreed on whether it was proven that Rodriguez gave the commands.

Prosecutors had argued that the 73-year-old ex-military officer knew about and ordered the killings of 1,771 indigenous Ixil Guatemalans by the army during Rios Montt’s 1982-1983 regime.

Rodriguez Sanchez has always maintained that he is innocent of the crimes.

Rios Montt was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 80 years in the case, but that ruling was quickly overruled and a new trial ordered. He was later declared unfit to stand trial and died April 1 of a heart condition while under house arrest.

According to a U.N. truth commission, about 245,000 people were killed or disappeared during Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war. Most of those were attributed to soldiers or pro-government paramilitaries.

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