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  • The former-general Efrain Rios Montt is accused of killing at least 1,771 indigenous Guatemalans.

    The former-general Efrain Rios Montt is accused of killing at least 1,771 indigenous Guatemalans. | Photo: EFE

Published 12 August 2015

The courts will hear from doctors next week to see if the retired general is mentally fit to face a retrial for charges of genocide.

Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt was released from a psychiatric hospital Tuesday, after undergoing seven days of tests that effectively delayed his retrial for charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Attorney Jaime Hernandez, who is part of Rios Montt's defense team, confirmed that psychiatrists had finished their assessment of the 89-year-old retired-general and submitted their final report to the Public Ministry, about one week earlier than planned.

The court must now wait until Aug 18 when it will hear testimony from the doctors who examined Rios Montt and the ministry to determine whether he is physically and mentally fit to face the severe charges.

Rios Montt is accused of killing at least 1,771 Guatemalans in the Mayan area of Ixil, committing 1,400 human rights violations, and displacing tens of thousands of indigenous people during his 1980's dictatorship. 

RELATED: Guatemala: The World Bank, a Hydroelectric Dam, and Massacres

His military regime marked one of the bloodiest periods of Guatemala's 36-year civil war (1960-1996).

In May 2013, Rios Montt was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity for thousands of human rights abuses, but the historic verdict and accompanying 80-year prison sentence were overturned just 10 days later, purportedly due to errors in process.

In July, the courts ordered that Rios Montt be admitted to a psychiatric hospital to undergo tests, after defense lawyers presented a report that declared him mentally unfit to face a re-trial, saying he is not capable of comprehending the charges against him or of defending himself.  

The court order was the latest in a long string of delays and procedural setbacks for the retrial of the former-general, which was supposed to begin in January. Next week the courts will make the final decision whether or not to finally proceed with the retrial. 

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