FRI-SAT-SUN
April 7-9, 2000
volume 11, no. 70
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

BISHOP MURDER CASE TO FOLLOW A "TORTUOUS PATH"

    GUATEMALA CITY (CWNews.com) - The prosecutor investigating the murder of Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi Conedera, Leopoldo Zeissig, said the investigation is following "a tortuous path," after the lawyer of two accused soldiers requested a face-to-face confrontation with their accuser, a witness for the prosecution.

    Ruben Chanax Sontay, a homeless man who is Zeissig's key witness, has said he saw Colonel Byron Miguel Lima Oliva and his father -- a retired military officer -- Byron Disrael Lima Estrada, leaving the crime scene minutes after Bishop Gerardi was murdered in his home.

    The lawyer for the two present and former members of an elite military unit have argued that Chanax Sontay "has changed his version too many times," and accused the prosecutor's witness of "trying to damage the defendant."

    The lawyer demanded a meeting between the two soldiers and Chanax Sontay before the trial formally starts. Zeissig, for his part, has recognized the soldiers' right to request the meeting, but said the process will only delay the beginning of the trial.

    "Too many variables are affecting the process," said Zeissig, referring to the fact that all the accused insist on their innocence while accusing, in their turn, the others. Last week, Father Mario Orantes, who also claims his innocence, was included in the murder accusation by the presiding judge.

    "The prosecution is committed to the solving of this case, but it seem that this tortuous process will get worse before it gets better," Zeissig said.

    Bishop Gerardi was murdered in the garage of his home in April 1998, two days after releasing a human rights report that blamed the military and its paramilitary allies for most of the deaths in the country's 36-year civil war. Human rights groups and Catholic leaders have criticized the investigators for focusing on various homeless men, Father Orantes, and the bishop's housekeeper as suspects, rather than anyone connected to the military.

          

April 7-9, 2000
volume 11, no. 70
NEWS & VIEWS

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