January 25, 2000
volume 11, no. 17
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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.

    GUATEMALA CITY (CWNews.com) - Four suspects were arrested over the weekend by Guatemalan police in the April 1998 murder of an auxiliary bishop of Guatemala City, following a promise earlier this month by the country's new president to push the investigation forward.

    On Friday, police arrested army officers Capt. Byron Lima Oliva, 30, and his father, retired Col. Disrael Lima Estrada, 58, and on Saturday, arrested Obdulio Villanueva, a former member of the elite presidential guard in the bludgeoning death of Bishop Juan Jose Conedera Gerardi. The bishop's cook, Margarita Lopez, was also re-arrested in the case as an accomplice.

    Bishop Gerardi was killed in the garage of his home on April 26, 1998, two days after releasing a human rights reports that blamed most of the deaths in the country's 36-year civil war on government forces. Although Catholic and human rights groups immediately called for the investigation to focus on security forces, prosecutors arrested and charged Father Mario Orantes, a priest living with the bishop, but later dropped charges. Father Orantes was also again named in the warrants

    The same groups hailed the weekend's arrests as vindication of claims that security forces were behind the murder. "We have always said this was a politically motivated crime," Nery Rodenas, co-director for the Guatemala Archdiocese's Human Rights Office.

    Prosecutors said they had also issued arrest warrants for more military and civilian suspects, including Father Orantes. The priest's mother has said her son is overseas seeking medical treatment for ailments he suffered during his previous stay in prison.

    President Alfonso Portillo, during his swearing-in ceremony on January 14, pledged to launch an investigation into the state security forces for alleged involvement in the bishop's murder. Three previous prosecutors and two judges had resigned from the case in the past two years following death threats against them and their families.


January 25, 2000
volume 11, no. 17

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