The Americas

Guatemala tries 2 for alleged abuse of women in civil war

A retired military officer and a former paramilitary have gone on trial in Guatemala for alleged abuses against women during the Central American nation's long and bloody civil war.

Former 2nd Lt. Esteelmer Francisco Reyes Giron and Heriberto Valdez Asij are accused of crimes against humanity for the presumed rape, sexual enslavement, killing and disappearance of at least 15 women.

Prosecutor Hilda Pineda said Reyes Giron authorized and permitted soldiers under his command to commit sexual violence and other "inhuman treatment" against indigenous Mayan women.

Reyes Giron declined to speak as the trial opened Monday. Valdez Asij said he was innocent, did not hurt anyone and had been unjustly imprisoned.

About a dozen of the alleged victims were in the courtroom wearing indigenous dresses with their faces covered.