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.
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.
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Remarkably mild night for March