The trial of former strongman Gen. Efrain Rios Montt and one of his closest collaborators for genocide and crimes against humanity will begin Aug. 13, a Guatemalan court announced Thursday.

That is the earliest open date on the court's calendar, Judge Jazmin Barrios told reporters.

Judge Miguel Angel Galvez ruled last week that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Rios Montt and retired Gen. Jose Mauricio Rodriguez for the killings of 1,771 Ixil Indians between March 1982 and August 1983.

Rios Montt, 86, is accused of masterminding the bloodbath, while the 67-year-old Rodriguez is charged with carrying out the mass killings as a part of a "scorched earth" campaign during Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war.

The trial will be the first of any Guatemalan ruler for the massacres and atrocities of the civil war.

Rios Montt presided over the bloodiest phase of a conflict that claimed more than 200,000 lives. Most of the dead were Indian peasants slaughtered by the army and its paramilitary allies.

EFE