January 27, 2000
volume 11, no. 19
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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.

Authorities Reorder Priest's Arrest

    GUATEMALA, JAN 26 (ZENIT).- Information related to the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi, which was obtained by the Secretariat for Strategic Analysis of the Presidency of the Republic, has been lost.

    The denunciation, which appeared in today's issue of the newspaper "Prensa Libre," was reported by Edgar Gutierrez, who is responsible for the Secretariat, and who first realized the dossier was missing when Guatemala's new President, Alfonso Portillo, called for information on the crime, committed on April 26, 1998.

    According to the above sources, the folder was found in the Secretariat "but not its contents."

    Within the next few days, the head of the Secretariat for Strategic Analysis will request the Ministry of Public Affairs to investigate the dossier's disappearance, and deduce the criminal responsibilities of the person responsible. For the moment, everything seems to point to Howard Yang Luke, Gutierrez's predecessor in the post.

    Moreover, yesterday the Guatemalan authorities reordered the arrest of a priest, Fr. Mario Orantes, who was implicated in the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi. It is the second order of arrest in four days in the murder case of the Bishop who defended human rights.

    Gerardi died in his garage from a blow on the head on April 26, 1998, two days after presenting a report in which he stated that military and paramilitary groups were responsible for the deaths of civilians during Guatemala's civil war, which lasted 36 years and ended in 1996.

    Fr. Orantes, an assistant of Bishop Gerardi, was jailed not long after the crime, but was freed last February as their was no evidence of his culpability and groups for the defense of human rights protested his imprisonment as an attempt to cover up the military's involvement in the crime.

    Fr. Orantes' family said the authorities might have trouble finding the 40 year old priest, who was given permission to travel to the United States last October and has not returned. Fr. Orantes left Guatemala for health reasons and also because of anonymous threats.

    Last Friday the authorities arrested Margarita Lopez, the cook who worked in Bishop Gerardi's residence, accusing her of covering up evidence of the murder.

    Three military men have been jailed over the past few days for alleged participation in the killing. They are: Byron Lima Oliva, 30, an Army Captain; his father, retired Colonel Disrael Lima Estrada, 58, and Jose Obdulio Villanueva, 35, former member of the presidential security guard. ZE00012509


January 27, 2000
volume 11, no. 19

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