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Guatemalan leader cleared of murder
Lawyer who blamed Colom for his assassination arranged his own death, probe says.
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2010 07:17 GMT
Rosenberg's accusations set an already polarised country into a frenzy of protests [AFP]

A Guatemalan lawyer who accused the country's president of his murder in a video made before his death, actually contracted the hitmen to kill him, UN investigators have said.
 
Rodrigo Rosenberg, contacted cousins of his first wife to help him find a hitman to deal with an extortionist, when he really was orchestrating his own killing, the investigating commission said.

"We have to conclude that it was Rosenberg himself who asked for help from ... intimate friends," Carlos Castresana, head of the inquiry into the May 10 killing, said on Tuesday.
 
"They received his request and looked for someone capable [of carrying out the murder]."

Castresana said evidence shows Rosenberg bought two cellular phones, one to communicate with his killers and another to deliver threatening messages to his own personal phone.

He said the commission's theory is that Rosenberg was motivated by a sense of guilt and frustration over what he believed was the government's involvement and failure to properly investigate the killing of his client and girlfriend, Marjorie Musa, along with her father, Khalil Musa.

Musa connection

Rosenberg had advised Khalil Musa to accept a seat on the board of directors of the private- and government-sponsored Rural Development Bank.

In his video, Rosenberg said if he were killed, it would be because he was assassinated by Alvaro Colom, Guatemala's president, to silence him for discovering the killings were linked to money laundering at the bank.

Colom suggested that criminal or political interests were behind the video and expressed relief at the verdict.

"The day has arrived that I have waited for in silence and patience, where this crime finally been clarified," he said.

The commission's investigation has led to 11 arrests. Francisco and Estuardo Valdes Paiz, the cousins implicated in the investigation, are considered fugitives from justice.
 
Investigators allege they contacted the head of security at their pharmaceutical company to help them find someone to carry out the killing for $40,000.

Widespread protests

Rosenberg's accusations were distributed to reporters on DVDs at his funeral and immediately set an already polarised country into a frenzy of protests, allegations of corruption and calls for Colom's resignation.

His posthumous accusations of corruption became a rallying cry for members of Guatemala's dominant elite, many of whom are angry over Colom's attempts to eliminate tax loopholes for corporations and criticise his inability to reduce high rates of violent crime.
 
Colom is overwhelmingly backed by Guatemala's mostly Mayan Indian poor for his efforts to tax the rich and build schools and clinics for disadvantaged communities.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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