GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- Prosecutors in Guatemala formally charged a
Roman Catholic priest on Wednesday in the killing of an archbishop who
headed the archdiocese's human rights office.
Judge Isaias Figueroa Medina ordered the Rev. Mario Lionel Orantes
Najera to remain in jail and await trial on charges of killing Bishop Juan
Church officials say Orantes is innocent and have urged his release. A
church spokesman, Monsignor Efrain Hernandez, called Wednesday's
A day earlier, Archbishop Victor Hugo Martinez criticized the investigation
and accused prosecutors of ignoring "the hidden forces who were behind the
crime." Both church and human rights officials have accused prosecutors of
arresting Orantes to divert blame from the military.
Gerardi was found bludgeoned to death in the garage of his church residence
in April. His death occurred two days after he released a report blaming the
military for most of the deaths in Guatemala's 36-year civil war, which ended
Orantes, who was living in Gerardi's residence at the time of the killing,
arrested July 22 because of evidence his dog had bitten the bishop before he
Prosecutors have not given a motive for the killing.
Copyright 1998 The Associated Press.