GUATEMALAN BISHOP MURDERED AFTER HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT

      GUATEMALA CITY (CWNews.com) - The auxiliary bishop of Guatemala City was killed on Sunday, just two days after he presented a report detailing human rights violations during the country's 36-year civil war.

      Auxiliary Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedra was the head of the archdiocesan human rights office and released the report, "Never Again in Guatemala," at the cathedral on Friday. Sunday night, the 75-year-old bishop was dragged from his bed and killed by blows to his head with a cement block, police said. Investigators said they have not determined a motive, but Church sources said the timing is suspicious.

      The report was critical of the Guatemalan army and paramilitary groups under its control, blaming them for nearly 80 percent of the 150,000 deaths and 50,000 disappearances during the war. In one of Latin America's longest civil conflicts, leftist rebels fought the Guatemalan government, demanding land reform and greater democracy. A peace accord was signed in 1996. Bishop Gerardi is the first bishop slain in Guatemala, and his death is the first killing of such a high-ranking church official in Central America since the peace accords.

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April 28, 1998 volume 9, no. 82         DAILY CATHOLIC