Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Twisted end to Guatemalan murder

WHO DONE IT? A UN probe found that lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg hired hit men to kill him and then made a videotape accusing the president of arranging the hit

AFP , GUATEMALA CITY

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom speaks at a news conference in Guatemala City on Wednesday, one day after a UN-backed commission cleared him of links to the murder of a prominent lawyer, Rodrigo Rosenberg, last May.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom said on Wednesday there will be “no witch hunt” for those who wrongly accused him of murdering a lawyer who, investigators found, planned his own death to blame Colom and his wife of the crime.

“We will conduct a very objective investigation, but there will be no witch hunt or anything of the sort, just a search for the truth about whether or not there was ... a conspiracy to overthrow an elected official,” Colom told foreign reporters.

The murder last year of Rodrigo Rosenberg, a prominent Guatemalan lawyer, triggered a political crisis when a video surfaced with the deceased blaming the president, his aides and his wife of the crime.

The scandal even led to street demonstrations and calls for Colom’s impeachment.

A UN committee, however, on Tuesday announced it had determined that Rosenberg, 47, had arranged his own murder, in an elaborate plan that included the videotaped accusations a day before he was gunned down while riding his bicycle last May.

The investigation was carried out by the International Committee Against Impunity in Guatemala, a body created by the UN, which looks into crimes committed during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war that ended in 1996.

“As a citizen, I would say no, I don’t have the least intention” of going after his accusers, Colom said.

“It was a shocking thing, an unforgivable outrage, but my heart bears no resentment or anything of the kind. There’s no spirit of vengeance,” he said.

However, he added, “as president I have the duty to uphold the law and the Constitution. A legal team will launch a completely objective investigation with no omissions.”

Colom criticized his political opponents for too eagerly branding him a murderer.

“When an infamy occurs, snakes and toads start jumping into the wrong cart ... all the vampires got together and then started sucking blood,” he said, adding that if anybody on the wrong side of the law is uncovered by investigators, “he’ll have to pay.”

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