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Welcome to the educational page for the Dictator in the Dock series – a comprehensive guide of resources for teaching about the recent Guatemalan genocide trial.  

This platform can be used in the following ways:

  • Digitally stream the full ‘Dictator in the Dock’ series, or assign episodes to students (Spanish version)
  • Explore the multi-media resource guide created in collaboration with academics and experts
  • View episodes within a timeline of events and contextual information (or assign to students)

Resource Guide

Episode Guide

01 Unspeakable Cruelty

Day One, March 19th, 2013

Maya Ixil witness, Nicolas Raymundo Cedillo, testifies to the horrors committed by government troops in his village.

02 Order in the Court

Day One, March 19th, 2013

A glimpse into the changing circumstances of Rios Montt’s life: media personnel jockey to interview the accused, who tries to remain silent; Judge Yassmin Barrios lays down the ground rules of his house arrest.

03 The Defense Objects

Day Two, March 20, 2013

The defense questions the legitimacy of witness Inés Gomez Lopez’s as she struggles to remember the specifics of the military attack on her village that resulted in her father’s death.

04 A Trial of Two Languages

Day Two, March 20, 2013

In spite of the suspension of the oral debates, over 100 witnesses testified for the prosecution – many Maya Ixil, who testified in their native language. Controversy arose in the midst of Juan Pérez’s testimony over how to interpret the language.

05 The Price of Justice

Day Three, March 21, 2013

Prosecutorial witness Jacinta Rivera Brito describes the injuries and losses her family sustained during a military strike. She demands justice, but at what cost?

06 A Question of Accent

Day Three, March 21, 2013

Tensions are high in the courtroom as the defense questions the accuracy of the interpretation of Domingo Rivera Pop’s testimony. A consultant for the prosecution reveals the nuances in the K’iche language.

07 A Strong Judge    

Day Three, March 21, 2013

Sebastian Cedillo Raimundo faces harsh interrogation by the defense. Judge Barrios demands that the defense give witnesses the respect they deserve as they bravely testify against the accused.

08 Murder of Infants: Never Again

Day Seven, April 1, 2013

A Maya Ixil woman, Margarita Raymundo Melendez, clearly states that the trial is about reconciling with the past, as well as preventing future atrocities.

09 An Attempt to Decimate the Future

Day Eight, April 2, 2013

Witness Cecili Vacá Gallego describes the sexual violence inflicted on her while a captive of the military. She testifies with the hope that awareness will prevent similar events from repeating. Women in the audience cover their heads in solidarity.

10 Escape to the Mountains

Day Nine, April 3, 2013

Nicolas Toma Matón was a young father in 1982 when his village was attacked. When asked why the soldiers massacred his family he replied “they must have been following orders.”

11 They Came to Kill

Day Ten, April 4, 2013

Pedro Caba Caba testifies about his experience as a 17 year old when his village of Ilom was attacked by the Guatemalan Army.

12 Ingrained Racism

Day Ten, April 4, 2013

On Monday, May 20th the Guatemalan Constitutional Court overturned the conviction and sentencing of Rios Montt. But the evidence presented by Sociologist and author Marta Elena Casaús Arzú builds the case for the intent to commit genocide under the regime of Rios Montt.

13 Bones Tell Stories

Day Eleven, April 5, 2013

Expert witness Daniel Alonso Jiménez Gaitán, one of many forensic anthropologists working to piece together an irrefutable story, explains the discovery of mass graves containing numerous skeletal remains, many of which belonged to children.

14 Who Killed Them?

Day Fourteen, April 10, 2013

Fredy Peccerelli, Executive Director of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation, testified as an expert witness on April 10, 2013. Using precise scientific evidence, he describes a pattern of extrajudicial murders.

15 Genocide

Day Seventeen, April 15, 2013

Expert witness Elizabeth Oglesby explains how the actions of the Guatemalan Army constitute acts of genocide.

16 Military Operations

Day Seventeen, April 15, 2013

Former Peruvian general, Rodolfo Robles Espinoza, testifies about the content of the following Guatemalan government documents:

  • National Plan of Security and Development (Plan Nacional de Seguridad y Desarrollo) — This plan was initiated by Ríos Montt in 1982.
  • Operation Victoria 82
  • Operation Sofia
  • Operation Ixil
  • Operation Firmeza 83

These are collections of military orders and reports pertaining to operations in 1982 and 1983 and refer to the objective of “exterminating subversive elements in the area” of Ixil, in northwestern Quiché.

Former General Robles also refers to “La Fuerza de Tarea Gumarcaj” that was a military unit specializing in anti-subversive warfare and is linked to massacres, disappearances, and torture.

17 The Right to Dissent

Day Seventeen, April 15, 2013

Héctor Rosada Granados was a government negotiator during the Peace Accords that ended the conflict between the military dictatorship and the guerrilla forces. He testifies for the Prosecution about the U.S. National Security Doctrine, adopted by the Guatemalan state, that viewed anyone who opposed the government as a communist and a legitimate target.

18 Beans and Bullets

Day Nineteen, April 17, 2013

The defense witness to be called on April 17, 2013 was Harris Whitbeck, Sr. He coordinated the fund-raising amongst evangelical Christian groups in the United States and internationally and became the key architect of the counter-insurgency program called “Beans and Bullets,” a civic action program where food was given to the survivors of the massacres in exchange for work. These survivors were thus virtual prisoners in militarized villages under the watchful eye of the Army.

19 Legal Lunacy

Day Twenty, April 18, 2013

Delays and procedural issues have marked the defense’s strategy up to now. In one of the trial’s most dramatic moments, defense attorney César Calderón yells at the Judges and calls the trial illegal, saying it’s trampling on due process. He urges Judge Barrios to suspend the hearings and then stages an act of protest.

20 Respect

Ríos Montt’s lawyer Francisco García Gudiel shouts, threatens, and warns Judge Yassmín Barrios that he will not rest until she is put behind bars. Nevertheless, Judge Barrios reminds him that respect is expected in her courtroom. She denies his request to suspend the trial, paving the way for closing arguments to go forward and the trial to conclude.

21 500 Years

May 9, 2013

As part of concluding statements the President of the Association for Justice and Reconciliation, Benjamin Geronimo and the Director of the Center for Human Rights Legal Action, Francisco Soto, give heartfelt statements to the Tribunal, and ask for a conviction of the accused.

22 Genocide Denied

May 9, 2013

Closing argument by Ríos Montt’s defense attorney Francisco García Gudiel. Counselor Gudiel asks that Ríos Montt be found innocent, asserting that no genocide occurred in Guatemala.

23 Verdict

Dictator in the Dock series finale recounting the prosecution and defense tactics and concludes with Judge Barrios handing down her verdict.

International Law & Transitional Justice





Transcripts from the Trial

Military Documents

  • Plan Sofia/Operation Sofia
  • The National Plan of Security and Development
  • Operation Victoria 82
  • Operation Ixil
  • Operation Firmeza 83
  • La Fuerza de Tarea Gumarcaj
  • The National Security Doctrine


Recommended Dictator in the Dock Episodes

  • 1, 3, 4, 8, 14, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24
Guatemala and Human Rights
Indigenous Rights
Books by Expert Witnesses
Multimedia reporting


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