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Guatemala President Otto Pérez Molina has long denied that genocide took place during the 36-year civil war. Reuters

Nearly 30 years after his fall from power, former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt has been found guilty of the genocide of more than 1,700 indigenous Ixil Mayans Guatemalan courts ruled Friday.

Rios Montt is the first Latin American head of state to be tried and convicted of genocide by his own judicial system, CNN reported.

Rios Montt was accused of ignoring blatant violence against indigenous Mayans and Guatemalans alike during a tiring, bloody civil war that lasted 36 years. His negligence is said to have caused more than 200,000 deaths.

He's been senteced to 80 years in prison, which those in the human rights field are hailing as an overwhelming victory. Guatemala is being praised for making a statement by sentincing him for 30 years longer than the country's maximum jail time.

"It's very valuable to us, totally refreshing. We deserved it," human rights activist Helen Mack told the Associated Press.

The former strongman, 86, was ordered to go straight to jail, removing his house arrest. Among his limited privileges, he is allowed two hours out if his prison cell with guard supervision and three daily meals in which family members may bring him food.

While considerable violence occurred both before and after Rios Mott's rule, the panel of 3 judges found that

The trial consisted of dozens of testimonies from Ixil Mayans who were caught in Guatemalan military and Marxist guerillas fighting in the countryside during 1982-83 when Rios Montt was a general, coup leader and de facto leader of the nation.

It has been determined that during the civil war, which took place from 1960 until peace accords were reached in 1996, 93 percent of the atrocities commited were the fault of the government and its allies. Many of the leaders during that time have still not been convicted.

Still, analysts revere this as a win for Guatemala as it proved that its judicial system is functioning after a long recovery period.

"It's historic for this country," Guatemalan political analyst Martin Rodriguez told reporters. "Surprising, because many of us remain incredulous that Guatemala's judicial system could handle a trial of this magnitude."

However, the struggle is far from over. It is anticipated that Rios Mott will appeal his case as his lawyer,Francisco Palomo, attempts to talk down his sentence and have him placed back under house arrest or transferred to a hospital as opposed to remaining in prison.

Guatemala is divided regarding the issue, with Rios Montt supporters as well as current president Otto Perez Molina denying a genocide ever took place.

The ruling serves as the first official acknowledgement of the genocide, though leaders insist that the trial was unfair and slanted in favor of the Ixil and vow to have the findings disproved.

When I said that Guatemala has seen no genocide, I repeat it now after this ruling," Perez Molina said. "Today's ruling is not final ... the decision will not be final until the moment they run out of appeals."

Rios Montt's intelligence officer during his rule, Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, had also been facing genocide charges. He was acquitted Friday.

In the aftermath of the trial in which the former ruler was being taken to prison, he apologized to his family and appeard complacent with his jailtime, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"Don't worry. I'm going to prison. I'm sorry for my family, but I'm not worried because I followed the law. Today there was a deficiency of justice," Rios Mott said.

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