Genocide charges denied

GUATEMALA CITY - Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, 86, denied Thursday that he ordered the extermination of Ixil Mayas as he testified for the first time at his genocide trial.

The former general said prosecutors haven't proven his participation in the killings. "I declared myself innocent," Rios Montt told the three-judge tribunal as many in the audience applauded. "It was never my intention or my goal to destroy a whole ethnic group."

Rios Montt seized power in a March 1982 coup and was overthrown just over a year later. Prosecutors say that while in power, he was aware of, and thus responsible for, the slaughter of more than 1,700 Ixil Mayas. - AP

Activist's kin alleges attack

BEIJING - The oldest brother of a Chinese activist who fled house arrest and later settled in the U.S. said he was beaten up Thursday by unidentified men, part of an increase in harassment possibly linked to the activist's plans to visit Taiwan.

Chen Guangfu said he was followed by a black car without a license plate while he was on a motor scooter visiting a relative in another village in Shandong province. The car overtook him and blocked his way before two men got out and punched and kicked him, he said.

Chen said his family's home has been pelted with rocks and its yard littered with dead poultry in recent weeks, and that posters have been placed around town labeling activist Chen Guangcheng and his relatives as traitors. - AP

Uruguay general guilty

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Uruguay has convicted an active general for dictatorship-era human-rights violations for the first time. Gen. Miguel Dalmao was sentenced to 28 years in prison for the death of a communist professor.

The general's lawyer told the Associated Press on Thursday that he has already appealed Wednesday's verdict, saying evidence was "invented."

Dalmao was a 23-year-old lieutenant in 1974, and was in charge of the jail where Nibia Sabalsagaray, a 24-year-old literature professor and communist activist, was taken from her Montevideo apartment. Hours later, she was dead.

Dalmao claimed she had committed suicide, but Judge Dolores Sanchez cited physical and psychological autopsies that showed evidence of torture. - AP

N. Ireland idea to ease division

DUBLIN - Northern Ireland's leaders say they want to tear down the "peace lines" of Belfast - dozens of walls that divide Irish Catholic and British Protestant neighborhoods - by 2023.

The Catholic-Protestant government unveiled the goal Thursday as part of plans to reduce divisions in what remains a profoundly polarized society. Leaders stressed that no security barriers would be dismantled until people living on both sides felt comfortable with the move. - AP