DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     October 20, 1999     vol. 10, no. 200

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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        GUATEMALA CITY (CWNews.com) - While the Guatemalan government appointed a new prosecutor for the investigation of the murder of Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi Conedera, sources in the judiciary revealed on Tuesday that there is a new witness who may provide key information that could put the case back on course.

        The new prosecutor, Leopoldo Zeissig Ramirez, will replace Celvin Galindo, who fled the country and requested asylum in the United States following death threats as his investigation progressed. The attorney general's office also appointed two new assistants, Mario Leal and Joel Garcia, to help the recently appointed prosecutor.

        Bishop Gerardi was murdered in April 1998, two days after releasing a human rights report that blamed most of the deaths in the country's 36-year civil war on the military. While initial investigations focused on Father Mario Orantes Najera, who lived with the bishop and has also fled the country after being cleared of charges, human rights groups and Church leaders called for an investigation into military connections to the murder. As Galindo began to pursue DNA evidence that could connect soldiers who were near the scene of the crime to the murder, death threats against his family escalated, forcing him to flee.

        "This is certainly a great challenge, because the Gerardi case is probably the most complicated, but we will put all our efforts to deliver accordingly," Zeissig Ramirez said.

        Meanwhile, according to reports in the local media, a woman who was a key witness to the murder of Bishop Gerardi has agreed to step forward after receiving protection from the United Nations Mission of Verification for Guatemala (MINUGUA). Although her name has not been released for security reasons, the woman would allegedly be well-known in the political and social circles of Guatemala.

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.

October 20, 1999       volume 10, no. 200


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