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Guatemala bishop's killer killed in prison riot

A former military officer convicted in the 1998 assassination of Guatemalan rights crusader Bishop Juan Gerardi was decapitated on Wednesday with five other inmates during a prison riot in Guatemala City, officials said.

Obdulio Villanueva, an ex-sergeant major serving a 30-year sentence for the murder of Gerardi, was found dead at the prison on the northern outskirts of the city.

The riot, which was quelled by 800 police, erupted during a fight between prison youth gangs and inmates convicted of drug trafficking and kidnapping, Interior Minister Adolfo Reyes Calderon said.

He said 14 inmates were injured in the clash that lasted more than five hours. The prison holds 1985 inmates.

In 2001, a court convicted Villanueva and two other high-ranking military officers of the murder of the Roman Catholic bishop, bludgeoned to death two days after publishing a four-volume report blaming Guatemala's military for hundreds of massacres and other abuses during a 1960-1996 civil war in which some 200,000 people were killed.


Guatemala court annuls Bishop Gerardi murder verdict (10/10/02)
Catholic Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi (Amnesty International USA)

14 Feb 2003