Pope John Paul has requested clarification from Guatemalan President Alvaro Arz˙ of circumstances surrounding the murder of human rights champion Bishop Juan Gerardi.
    Many have accused the army of being behind Gerardi's killing. He was slain two days after he presented a human rights report blaming the army and paramilitary patrols for the vast majority of human rights abuses during Guatemala's 36 year civil war.
    The Pope met the President in Rome just ahead of Monday's first anniversary of the bishop's death. Investigations on the case are virtually paralyzed because of deficiencies in the country's judicial system.
    Gerardi's successor Bishop Rios Montt told the press that he believes military intelligence invented the accusations leading to Father Mario Orantes' imprisonment for several months without any proof. "This rumor was launched to derail the investigations ... and prevent the clarification of the crime."
    Bishop Montt said the most difficult problem in the Gerardi case is the lack of independence of the judges, because they are under the control of a "parallel power."
    Meanwhile some 60,000 worshippers gathered at the capital's main cathedral on Sunday to remember Gerardi on the eve of the first anniversary of his killing. The gates to Gerardi's tomb in the Metropolitan Cathedral were opened on Monday, and a ``march against impunity'' took place to pressure authorities to find those responsible bludgeoning the bishop to death.

9:36am 27/4/99 / Zenit & AP


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