The Common Good
January-February 2000

Justice Remains Elusive in Guatemala

by Ryan Beiler | January-February 2000

Celvin Galindo, the prosecutor investigating the murder of Guatemalan Bishop Juan Jose
Gerardi, has fled to the United States for fear of his life.

Celvin Galindo, the prosecutor investigating the murder of Guatemalan Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi, has fled to the United States for fear of his life. Bishop Gerardi was bludgeoned to death in April 1998, two days after presenting "Guatemala: Nunca Mas" ("Guatemala: Never Again," released in English by Orbis Books in October), a report from the Guatemalan Catholic human rights office that found government forces responsible for the overwhelming majority of atrocities committed during that country’s armed conflict.

Death threats against Galindo had intensified as he awaited DNA test results possibly implicating military officers in the bishop’s murder. Galindo admitted being "frustrated at not reaching the end [of the case], but I believe that, in reaching the end of the case, I would run a very great risk."

His exodus follows that of a judge who abandoned the case and the country after only a month, and witnesses—including a former military officer—who fled to Canada after offering testimony showing military involvement in the murder.

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