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Attorney for Genocidal, U.S.-Backed Guatemalan Dictator Rios Montt Shot Dead

Alex Constantine - June 17, 2015

Lawyer who defended former Guatemala dictator in genocide trial murdered

June 3, 2015

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - One of Guatemalan former dictator Efrain Rios Montt's defence lawyers was gunned down in the country's capital on Wednesday, authorities said, the latest twist to a tumultuous genocide trial.

Francisco Palomo, a leading member of Rios Montt's defence team, was shot dead by two men on a motorbike while driving his car in Guatemala City, according to a preliminary police report.

Rios Montt's opponents accuse him of a scorched earth policy in the bloodiest phase of the country's 36-year civil war. In May 2013, he was found guilty of overseeing the killings by the armed forces of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil population during his 1982-83 rule.

Rios Montt was handed an 80-year sentence in 2013, but it was thrown out on a technicality two weeks later. His retrial was suspended in early January when the defence accused a judge of bias.

Palomo, 64, had also defended ex-President Alfonso Portillo, who has recently returned to Guatemala after serving a money-laundering sentence in the United States.

(Reporting by Enrique Pretel and Sofia Menchu, writing by Max de Haldevang; editing by Simon Gardner and G Crosse)

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