Former U.S.-Backed Guatemalan Leader on Trial

The trial of General Efrain Rios Montt, the former U.S.-backed leader of Guatemala, for war crimes began on Wednesday, with the first witnesses describing the massacre of his village when soldiers “tore their victims’ hearts out and put them on a little table.” Rios Montt is accused of ordering the killing of more than 1,800 indigenous people during his country’s civil war, although he has insisted he did not have power to order the massacre. Nicolas Brito, an indigenous Ixil, testified Wednesday about when soldiers attacked his Ixil village in 1982, and he is the first of 150 witnesses who are expected to describe the genocide. One of Rios Montt’s lawyers has already been expelled from the courtroom after insisting the judge was biased against him after they had clashed in different trials.