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Probe: Guatemalan Planned His Own Murder

January 22, 2010

GUATEMALA CITY – The Spanish jurist who chairs Guatemala’s International Commission Against Impunity said Tuesday that prominent attorney Rodrigo Rosenberg planned his own murder.

The May 10, 2009, crime ignited a political scandal in the Central American country, as Rosenberg pointed the finger at President Alvaro Colom in a posthumously released video, but Carlos Castresana this week told a press conference in Guatemala City that the evidence shows the lawyer “decided to put an end to his life.”

“In the investigations we have conducted up to now, we have found no indication of the participation of the president” in the murder, the Spaniard said.

Based on an analysis of cell phone calls, Castresana said investigators concluded that Rosenberg asked his cousins, businessmen Francisco and Jose Valdes, to arrange a contract killing without telling them the identity of the intended victim.

The Valdes brothers, in turn, instructed one of their bodyguards, Nelson Wilfredo Santos, to recruit gunmen to carry out the deed, the jurist said.

Gunmen arrested in September in connection with the crime said they were paid more than $6,000 to kill Rosenberg, who was fatally shot while riding his bicycle in an affluent area of Guatemala City.

Rosenberg’s slaying became a political scandal with the appearance days after the murder of a videotape in which the attorney said he feared that President Colom was planning to kill him.

The attorney said 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, 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.

Amid a pervasive lack of confidence in the police, the Commission Against Impunity took charge of the investigation.

Rosenberg’s murder and the ensuing uproar divided Guatemalans largely along class lines, as the wealthy elite demanded that Colom step down and the country’s poor majority stood behind the head of state, who staunchly maintained his innocence.

Eleven people, some of them police officers, are in custody in connection with Rosenberg’s murder. The Valdes brothers and Santos remain at large and are rumored to have fled Guatemala.

–EFE

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