UN: Guatemala Attorney Orchestrated Own Killing

By: Juan Carlos Llorca - AP Writer
By: Juan Carlos Llorca - AP Writer

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) - 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, U.N. investigators
announced Tuesday.

Attorney 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 slaying amid severe personal
problems, according to a special international group commissioned
by the government.

"We have to conclude that it was Rodrigo Rosenberg himself who
asked for help from ... intimate friends and said to them: 'I have
an extortionist who is threatening me and I want to kill him,"'
said Carlos Castresana, head of the probe into the May 10 killing.
"They received his request and looked for someone capable."

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.

Distress over personal problems and Rosenberg's suspicion that
the government was behind the murder of two close friends appear to
have motivated the Harvard-educated corporate lawyer, the
investigation suggested.

"Why the video?" Castresana said. "We don't have all the
answers. But we have a theory."

In the video, Rosenberg is seen looking into the camera and
saying, "If you are watching this message, it is because I was
assassinated by President Alvaro Colom."

The 47-year-old attorney, who served as assistant dean at a
private university, claimed Colom's government was linked to a
corruption scandal at a government bank and said any attack on him
would be an attempt to cover that up. Colom has denied any
involvement in the killing.

Rosenberg's accusations were distributed to reporters on DVDs at
his May 11 funeral and immediately set an already polarized country
into a frenzy of protests, allegations of corruption and calls for
Colom's resignation.

Castresana 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.

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 slain, it
would be to silence him for discovering the killings were linked to
money laundering at the bank.

Castresana said that blaming Colom apparently was a way of
shaking up the powers that be and "opening up a Pandora's box that
would result on change in the country."

Rosenberg also appeared to be depressed about the recent death
of this mother and losing custody of his children, the
investigation said.

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 criticize 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.

Colom had suggested that criminal or political interests were
behind the video. In a public statement Tuesday, Colom thanked all
those who supported him during "eight months of infamy."

The commission's investigation has led to 11 arrests with three
of those people working with investigators as protected witnesses.

The commission said it was able to identify suspects in the
killing using security camera footage from where Rosenberg was shot
on his bicycle and by tracing cell phone calls.

The cousins implicated in the investigation, Francisco and
Estuardo Valdes Paiz, 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.

"The information that (witnesses) have given us coincides down
to the millimeter with our investigations," he said.


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