Even if the case goes forward, there are obstacles. Some witnesses have been threatened and will need to be protected so they can testify again. Any retrial may be handled by another judge who doesn’t have the reputation for toughness and integrity as the one who delivered the conviction. Then there is the influence of President Otto Pérez Molina and the powerful business federation. Both have made clear their opposition to the genocide verdict.
For 30 years, victims sought to bring General Ríos Montt to justice. His trial has been seen as a turning point both for Guatemala and for the international quest to deal with human rights abuses. The United States, which supported the general and his regime during the war and apologized for that in 1999, provides aid for the justice system. It should urge that the case be pursued through an independent process. It would be a travesty if a mishandled legal proceeding were to deny victims justice now.The summary of what has happened to date is fine but what does the US "should urge that the case be pursued through an independent process mean"? The US ambassador to Guatemala and the US ambassador at-large for war crimes have been supporting the trial all along which I don't think that people appreciate enough.
And "an independent process"? I'm thinking that it means that politics should not play a role in the Constitutional Court's decision but that doesn't really seem to be a reasonable suggestion. It could mean that the president and CACIF should not have weighed in on the trial while it was ongoing. (Like President Obama not weighing in on the health care law while the Supreme Court was considering its constitutionality?) Or it could mean that the process should not be affected by threats - I agree with that one.
It's tough. From the first day, the defense tried to sabotage the trial and to lay the groundwork for an appeal. Rios Montt switched defense counsel at the last hour in an attempt to have the trial delayed and to get two of the judges removed. Instead, the judges ejected Garcia Gudiel from the courtroom to the cheers of those in the gallery. Garcia Gudiel was eventually returned to the defense but apparently the trial court should have really suspended the trial and waited for an appeals court to weigh in on what they had done.
The defense's strategy unfortunately worked.