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Guatemala bishop’s killer charged for building empire in prison

In this Feb. 15, 2012 file photo shot through a window, former Guatemalan Army Captain Byron Lima Oliva, accused and sentenced in 2006 to 20 years in jail for the 1998 slaying of Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi, stares into the camera as he waits in a courtroom in Guatemala City.


A Guatemalan army captain sentenced to 20 years in prison for the slaying of a Roman Catholic bishop has been charged with money laundering and organized crime for allegedly building an illicit business empire behind bars.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that Byron Lima extorted money from other inmates in return for favours like allowing prohibited cellphones into jails.

The UN International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala said national prison system director Sergio Camargo received money from Lima. Camargo has also been charged in the case.

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Lima allegedly had campaign T-shirts printed for the 2011 election of President Otto Perez, who is also a former soldier.

A UN commission employee who was not authorized to be quoted by name said Wednesday that Lima "sold privileges" in prison. The UN-backed team of police and prosecutors targets crime and corruption in Guatemala.

Lima was sentenced in 2001 along with three other men for the 1998 killing of Roman Catholic Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi, an activist clergyman who had accused Guatemala's military of being responsible for the vast majority of deaths during the country's brutal 36-year civil war.

The 75-year-old Gerardi was bludgeoned to death with a concrete block at his seminary on April 26, 1998, two days after he presented a report blaming the military for the overwhelming majority of the 200,000 deaths in Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war.

Also convicted in the murder were Lima's son, an army captain; a former presidential guard, and a priest at the seminary.

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