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Guatemalan military officer, convicted of bishop's killing, found running prison crime ring

Catholic World News - September 03, 2014

A Guatemalan military officer who was convicted of the 1998 murder of a Catholic bishop has been running a criminal organization from his prison cell, UN prosecutors have charged.

Byron Lima, who had been an army captain, allegedly took money from other prisoners in exchange for favors, bribed the director of the national prison system, and printed T-shirts for a presidential candidate—all while was serving a 20-year prison sentence. The charges against Lima and 12 other individuals were made by a UN commission investigating the human-rights abuses of the Guatemalan military government.

Lima was convicted in 2001 for the murder of Bishop Juan José Gerardi, who was killed shortly after releasing a report in which he said the Guatemalan military was responsible for most of the civilian casualties in the country’s long, bloody civil war. Lima was originally sentenced to serve 30 years in prison; that term was later cut down to 20 years by a judge’s decision.

Last February, Lima was discovered outside the prison where he was confined, driving a military vehicle, accompanied by prison guards. At the time he said that he was traveling to a dental appointment.

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