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Guatemala Rape Trial Opens

January 20, 1999

ESCUINTLA, Guatemala (AP) _ Four U.S. women who were raped while on a college trip were in Guatemala today to testify against three men charged in the 1998 attack.

The women were among 13 students and three faculty members from St. Mary’s College in St. Mary’s City, Md., who were traveling in Guatemala as part of a study tour last January. Gunmen forced their bus to stop, robbed the passengers and raped the women in a sugar cane field about 40 miles from Guatemala City.

The trial opened today with a series of motions on procedural issues. The courtroom will likely be closed to the public before testimony begins.

Charged with rape and aggravated robbery are Cosbi Gamaliel Urias Ortiz, 37, Rony Leonel Polanco Sil, 25, and Reyes Guch Venrura, 25. Two other men, whom the victims failed to recognize in a police lineup last year, were freed for lack of evidence. Five others have arrest warrants against them and are fugitives.

A professor who was part of the study group, William Cecil Roberts, also was expected to testify in the trial, which is taking place in the southern town of Escuintla.

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