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Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Guatemala remembers Bishop Gerardi: 'martyr of peace'
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 A memorial service was held in Guatemala City's Metropolitan Cathedral on Wednesday, to mark the anniversary of the murder of Bishop Gerardi. "Eight years have passed since Monsignor Juan José Gerardi Conedera was brutally assassinated...We are still here calling for justice for a just man." said Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruño in his homily. Thousands of people from all over the country paid homage to the "martyr of peace" brutally killed on 26 April 1998 in his parish of San Sebastián. The scent of incense mingled with that of the flowers that a group of indigenous people from the department of Cobán spread out at the entrance of the Bishop's tomb before praying in the Maya Quechí language; flower petals were arranged on the pavement to compose the words 'Niños en paz' (children in peace), in memory of the 22,000 minors killed during the long civil war (1960-'96), whose identities still today for the most part remain unknown. "Monsignore Gerardi is an example of faith that gave us hope of uncovering the truth on what occurred in Guatemala during the conflict and the atrocities that were committed", said a Spanish nun, who preferred to only give her first name, Maria. The Bishop's murder is still a mystery. last year a court reduced first instance sentences from 30 to 20 years in prison, issued in 2001 against retired army Colonel Disrael Lima Estrada and his son, Captain Byron Lima Oliva, for the prelate's murder. According to the judges, the officers were "accomplices" and not "material authors" of the assassination, as they were previously judged. The court also confirmed the 20-year sentence issued against Fr Mario Orantes, former secretary of the Bishop. All three filed appeals, but the new proceedings have not begun. Forty-eight hours before being killed, Monsignor Gerardi had published the report "Guatemala nunca más" ('Guatemala never again') on crimes committed during the civil war. The document lists over 55,000 human rights violations perpetrated during the civil war, which resulted in at least 200,000 victims, among dead and 'desaparecidos'. 80% of the cases are attributed to the armed forces. Source: MISNA
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