.- After more than two years since a conviction in the case was handed down, the highest court in Guatemala, the Constitutional Court, has ordered a court of appeals to settle outstanding issues related to a 2002 ruling on the assassination of Auxiliary Bishop of Guatemala City Juan Jose Gerardi, which took place in April of 1998. The case will be reopened by the Second Court of Appeals, which was handed the case by the country’s highest court and tasked with reviewing the sentence of the three soldiers and the priest convicted for the crime.
Nery Rodenas, director of the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala City, expressed his hope that the judges would be impartial, although he felt that “the request by the soldiers should be denied and the conviction reconfirmed.”
According to Roberto Echeverria, lawyer of one of the men convicted for the killing, “The circumstances have changed and the judges now have three options: confirm, annul or give a new sentence.”
Bishop Gerardi was bludgeoned to death in the driveway of the rector of St. Sebastian’s Parish, just days after releasing a report on human rights violations committed by the military.
Two years after the crime, three soldiers and one priest were tried and convicted of carrying out the assassination. However, in October of 2002, the Fourth Court of Appeals reversed the sentence and ordered new oral arguments.