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American’s Effort to Find Body of Guerrilla Husband to Resume

June 16, 1995

MALACATAN, Guatemala (AP) _ The search for the body of a missing guerrilla leader, whose death allegedly is linked to a CIA-paid colonel, will begin on Friday, a government prosecutor said.

Special Prosecutor Julio Arango Escobar said Thursday night that a judge in Tecun Uman, about 28 miles north of Malacatan in northwestern Guatemala, ordered the search to go ahead for the body of Efrain Bamaca.

American attorney Jennifer Harbury, who was married to Bamaca, believes he may be buried at the site of the Las Cabanas military post, near the Mexican border.

``We already had authority to begin excavations, but now we have a judge’s order to start digging and will proceed to the military post tomorrow morning,″ he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Digging was to have begun last week but was stopped when Col. Julio Roberto Alpirez and Lt. Col. Julio Alberto Soto Bilbao, being investigated in the Bamaca case, questioned the credibility of the prosecutor in the case.

In March, U.S. Rep. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., accused Alpirez of participating in Bamaca’s torture and the 1990 murder of an American innkeeper, Michael DeVine, while on the CIA’s payroll.

Alpirez says he is innocent.

Bamaca disappeared after a firefight between rebel and government forces in March 1992. The military insists Bamaca died in the fighting, but Harbury believes her husband was taken hostage and held for some time after the firefight.

Another rebel testified later that he saw Bamaca in military custody after the clash, alive but badly tortured.

Harbury brought international attention to her husband’s case when she held hunger strikes in Guatemala City and in front of the White House last year.

Army attorney Julio Citron Galvez had blocked the planned start of excavations, saying that the operation could not begin until recent military accusations against Arango have been thoroughly investigated.

More than 100,000 people have been killed, many of them in the army’s scorched-earth campaigns, during a 34-year civil war that continues.

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