Former Guatemalan leader Efrain Rios Montt has been sentenced to 80 years in prison after being found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity during the bloodiest phase of the country's 36-year civil war.
Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt has been found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the country's bloody civil war.
It is the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in their own country.
Rios Montt seized power in a 1982 coup and ruled until he was overthrown just over a year later.
His period in power was the bloodiest of the country's 36-year civil war.
Accused of implementing a scorched-earth policy in which troops massacred thousands of indigenous villagers.
Returned to the political limelight when he ran for president in 2003, and again in 2006.
Was back in public office in 2007 as a member of Congress, which secured him immunity from prosecution over war crimes allegations.
Immunity expired with the end of his term in office in January 2012.
Within weeks, he was summoned to court before being tried over the killings of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil indigenous group, in what Amnesty International hailed as the trial of the decade.
Hundreds of people packed into the courtroom burst into applause, chanting, "Justice!" as Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt received a 50-year term for the genocide charge and an additional 30 years for crimes against humanity.
Prosecutors said he ignored soldiers who raped and tortured
Rios Montt, now 86, took power after a coup in 1982 and was accused of implementing a scorched-earth policy in which troops massacred thousands of indigenous villagers thought to be helping leftist rebels.
He proclaimed his innocence in court.
I feel happy. May no one else ever have to go through what I did. My community has been sad ever since this happened.
– Elena de Paz, an ethnic Maya Ixil who was two years old in 1983 when soldiers stormed her village, killed her parents and burned her home.
His 1982-1983 rule was the most violent period of a 1960-1996 civil war in which as many as 250,000 people died.
He was tried over the killings of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil indigenous group, just a fraction of the number who died during his rule.