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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 11:49 GMT
Guatemala ex-leader case quashed
Guatemala's former military leader Efrain Rios Montt
Gen Rios Montt was defeated in the 2003 election
A court in Guatemala has dismissed manslaughter charges against former military ruler Efrain Rios Montt.

He was accused of orchestrating a violent protest by his supporters against a ruling which banned him from standing for president in 2003.

A journalist died of a heart attack while running away from protesters.

Gen Rios Montt led a military coup in 1982. He has been accused of directing some of the worst atrocities during the country's civil war.

Journalist Hector Ramirez died apparently from a heart attack while trying to escape a violent crowd of the general's supporters.

The public prosecutor's office had told the court there was insufficient evidence to try the case against Gen Rios Montt.

However, former Guatemalan police chief Raul Manchame will face trial over the riot. Another 15 defendants pleaded guilty, mostly to lesser charges.

Election violence

The 2003 protests, which caused chaos in Guatemala City, became known as Black Thursday.

Gen Rios Montt eventually contested the election this year, but he was defeated.

He took part in the poll despite a constitutional rule that no-one who had overthrown a government could stand for the presidency.

The election was marred by violence, with more than 22 people connected with political parties killed in the run-up to the vote.

Conservative businessman Oscar Berger - a former mayor of Guatemala City - won the poll in its second round.


SEE ALSO:
Guatemala ex-head in house arrest
09 Mar 04 |  Americas
Guatemala general beaten in poll
11 Nov 03 |  Americas
Establishing Guatemalan democracy
08 Nov 03 |  Americas
General to run in Guatemala
31 Jul 03 |  Americas
Guatemala City hit by riot
25 Jul 03 |  Americas
Country profile: Guatemala
11 Jul 03 |  Country profiles


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