Guatemala rejects slain lawyer’s assassination claim

Alvaro Colom's administration welcomed international assistance with the investigation.
The Guatemalan government has dismissed allegations that it was behind the death of a lawyer who left a video saying President Alvaro Colom would be to blame if anything happened to him.

The lawyer, Rodrigo Rosenberg, was shot dead Sunday while bicycling in Guatemala City. On Monday, a video surfaced, in which Rosenberg — seated behind a desk and speaking into a microphone — linked Colom and an aide to his death. “If you are watching this message,” Rosenberg says on the video, “it is because I was assassinated by President Alvaro Colom, with help from Gustavo Alejos” — the president’s private secretary. It was not immediately known when Rosenberg made the video. It surfaced Monday after his funeral, and was posted on YouTube and distributed to other media outlets by the newspaper El Periodico de Guatemala. The government promptly responded, rejecting the assertions and saying the claims were meant to create “political chaos.” In a seven-point statement posted on its Web site, Colom’s administration blamed Rosenberg’s death on organized crime and welcomed international assistance with the investigation. “The government of Guatemala categorically condemns the hostile, malicious way some sections of the population are using these events in order to create political instability in the country,” it said. Rosenberg’s video allegation said he was targeted for representing a prominent businessman, Jalil Mussa. Mussa and his daughter were killed in March and Rosenberg claimed it was because they had refused to participate in acts of corruption as the president wanted. “The murder of lawyer Rosenberg as well as the recording and written declaration distributed have to be analyzed very carefully,” the government said, “because the murder as well as the accusations are very serious offenses that are severely punishable by the law and are attempts against the state of law and democracy.”