The Guatemalan Constitutional Court on Tuesday upheld its May 20 decision overturning former dictator Efrain Rios Montt's conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity.

The CC rejected four motions submitted by the Attorney General's Office and plaintiffs' lawyers, a judicial spokesman told reporters.

Rios Montt, 86, was sentenced May 10 to 80 years in prison for the deaths of 1,771 Ixil Indians between March 1982 and August 1983 as part of a counter-insurgency campaign.

In its ruling overturning the verdict, the CC ordered a repeat of the segment of Rios Montt's trial that took place between April 19 and May 10.

The three members of the original trial court said Monday that they were recusing themselves in the face of challenges filed against two of them by Rios Montt's attorneys.

It is now up to the court of appeals to designate or constitute a new tribunal to re-hear the case.

The trial of Rios Montt marked the first time any Guatemalan ruler was called to account for the massacres and atrocities of the country's 1960-1996 civil war.

Prosecutors say 5.5 percent of Guatemala's Ixils were killed during Rios Montt's rule, which coincided with 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.

Thousands marched in Guatemala City last Friday to denounce the CC's intervention in the Rios Montt case. EFE