Doctors say Guatemala ex-dictator Rios Montt has dementia

AP News
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Posted: Aug 18, 2015 7:35 PM
Doctors say Guatemala ex-dictator Rios Montt has dementia

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Members of a medical team that evaluated Guatemalan former dictator Efrain Rios Montt reported Tuesday that he suffers from dementia as a court considers whether he is fit for trial on genocide and human rights charges.

The panel of 10 physicians examined the 89-year-old former general over eight days at the court's request, and three of them testified to say the team determined Rios Montt's dementia is related to heart disease and high blood pressure.

The former strongman was said to suffer from significant memory loss and be unaware of the day, the date or his surroundings.

"The patient's mental condition is of a chronic nature, progressive and incurable. ... He is not in full possession of his mental faculties," said Karen Pena, a doctor from the National Institute of Forensic Sciences.

It is now up to the court to determine whether to proceed with the case. Rios Montt's legal team argues he is not able to understand the proceedings or assist his defense, and is thus not competent for trial.

The court said it would issue a ruling Monday.

Prosecutors accuse Rios Montt of responsibility for the killing of 1,771 Mayan Ixil people by security forces under his 1982-83 regime.

He was sentenced in 2013 to 80 years, but the conviction was later overturned and a retrial ordered.