|Guatemala||TRIAL FOR BISHOP'S 1998 MURDER MAY BE POSTPONED UNTIL 2001|
The trial of three army officers, a diocesan priest and an elderly housekeeper for the 1998 murder of Auxiliary Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera of Guatemala City could be postponed until next year, said the prosecutor.|
Public prosecutor Leopoldo Zeissig told reporters on Thursday that ``a number of obstacles have been encountered which could delay the trial'' of retired Col. Disrael Lima Estrada; his son, Capt. Byron Lima Oliva; guardsman Jose Obdulio Villanueva; a diocesan priest, Father Mario Orantes; and Bishop Gerardi's former cook, Margarita Lopez.
All five are in custody awaiting trial. The military officers are accused of murder, and Father Orantez and Lopez are charged as accomplices to murder. Although the officers were originally arrested in January, the process of bringing them to trial has been a long one, full of obstacles.
``This would be really regrettable if the case is set back so long,'' said the head of the archdiocesan human rights office in Guatemala, Neri Rodenas.
``The administration of justice should not be interrupted,'' he added.
The latest delays came in June, when one of the judges appointed to oversee the trial withdrew from the case at the insistence of the archdiocesan legal team, who challenged his impartiality. In mid-July, a new judge was named to take his place.