Ex-Dictator to Run for Congress in Guatemala

Former dictator Efrain Rios Montt said Wednesday that he plans to run for Congress in September, which could make it harder to prosecute him on charges of violating human rights during the country's 36-year civil war.

Members of the country's Congress enjoy immunity from prosecution unless they are suspended from office by a court.

"I am certain and sure" of getting a seat in Congress, Rios Montt told a news conference. He ran for the presidency in 2004 and came in third.

A Guatemalan court is still considering whether to order the arrest of Rios Montt for crimes allegedly committed while he ran the country from 1982 to 1983. Rios Montt has denied any wrongdoing.

Rios Montt ruled during what was considered the bloodiest period of Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war, in which 200,000, mostly Mayan Indians, were killed or disappeared.

Spanish Judge Santiago Pedraz has issued warrants against Rio Montt and others on charges of genocide, torture, terrorism and illegal detention.

The case stems from charges levied in Spanish courts by Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rigoberta Menchu against five ex-military officials and three ex-government officials in the disappearance of Spanish priests and a fire at the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City that killed Menchu's father and 36 others.