Latin America & Caribbean

Byron Lima: Killer of Guatemala bishop dies in jail riot

Byron Lima in a courtroom in Guatemala City Feb 2012 Image copyright AP
Image caption Lima was an army captain in 2001 when he was sentenced for the killing

The authorities in Guatemala say an army officer convicted of killing an outspoken Catholic bishop has died in a prison riot.

Byron Lima had been serving a 20-year sentence for the murder in 1998 of Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi, an opponent of the then military regime.

His lawyer said he had been shot by a rival gang within the jail.

The former army captain is reported to have been one of the most powerful inmates in Guatemala's prison system.

He was convicted in 2001 and sentenced to 30 years in jail, but his term was later reduced to 20 years.

His lawyer said he had reports from prison inmates that Lima had recently forbidden a rival gang from selling drugs in the prison where he was serving his sentence.

Lima was convicted along with his father, an army colonel, and a third soldier of the murder of Bishop Gerardi.

The cleric, who was the head of the Guatemalan Catholic Church's division on human rights, was killed two days after publishing a report in which he blamed the Guatemalan army for most of the human rights abuses committed during the country's 36-year armed conflict.

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