Friday, May 22, 2009

Authorities Cite Lead in Lawyer’s Murder in Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY – An anonymous informant has provided authorities with the names of three suspects in the May 10 murder of a prominent attorney who said in a posthumously released video that he feared Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom was planning to kill him, the national ombudsman said Thursday.

Sergio Morales told reporters that the informant sent a document to his office indicating that six people were behind the slaying of Rodrigo Rosenberg.

“In the document, the witness identified three of the six alleged killers by their names and surnames,” Morales said.

The ombudsman said he delivered the report Wednesday to the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, which is investigating Rosenberg’s slaying with assistance from the FBI.

Morales said his office is trying to locate the anonymous witness in order to provide the individual with police protection, since given the delicate nature of the case his or her life could be at risk.

Ten days after the release of the video in which Rosenberg can be seen accusing Colom, first lady Sandra Torres, presidential aide Gustavo Alejos and several others of plotting to kill him, the document represents the first concrete lead in the case.

Rosenberg said on the video that his life was at risk because he had evidence of the involvement of the president and his associates in the April 14 slayings of businessman Khalil Musa and his daughter, Marjorie.

Musa, recently appointed by Colom to the board of the public-private Banrural development bank, was killed for refusing to cover up “illegal, multi-million-dollar transactions being carried out day after day” at the financial institution, Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg’s murder and the video have touched off one of the worst political crises of the past decade in Guatemala and polarized society into two camps: mostly middle- and upper-class protesters who are demanding the center-left head of state step down and poor demonstrators who support Colom.

“I haven’t killed anyone. I’m not a drug trafficker and I’ve never made shady deals against the opposition. The truth about Rosenberg’s murder will be revealed; the truth about the preparation of the video and the hatching of this plot also will be discovered,” Colom told Efe last week in an interview.

Colom, Guatemala’s first left-of-center president in more than 50 years, also said that only over his “dead body” will he leave office before the end of his term.

Latin American Tribune

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