Lawyer for archdiocese demands case of murdered Guatemalan bishop be solved

Speaking on the seventh anniversary of the murder of Auxiliary Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera of Guatemala City, the lawyer for the Office of Human Rights of the Archdiocese of Guatemala, Mario Domingo, demanded the government determine who was behind the act so that the crime would not remain unsolved.

“We must find out who was materially responsible,” said Domingo.  He noted that no further investigations have been conducted and that three persons considered only accomplices have been imprisoned.

Bishop Gerardi was murdered on April 26, 1998, two days after presenting a final report on the civil war which plagued the country for 36 years.

A trial found Colonel Byron Lima Estrada, his son Captain Byron Lima Oliva, and Father Mario Orantes guilty of complicity in the crime.  All three are serving 20-year prison sentences.

In 2001, Colonel Lima and Capitan Lima, along with Sergeant Obdulio Villanueva, also implicated in the crime, were condemned to 30 years in prison for being “co-authors” of the murder, but a court of appeals ruled the conviction was unlawful and changed it to “complicity,” thus reducing the sentences.  Villanueva was decapitated during a riot.

Just recently the Bishops Conference of Guatemala issued a statement highlighting Bishop Gerardi’s dedication to human rights and his desire for the truth about the civil war to be known in order to help bring about “pardon and reconciliation.”

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