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New Prosecutors Named To Investigate CIA-Paid Colonel

May 8, 1995

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) _ The attorney general named two new investigators Monday in the killings of a U.S. innkeeper and a guerrilla married to an American lawyer.

U.S. Rep. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., has alleged that both killings were ordered by Guatemalan army Col. Julio Roberto Alpirez while he was on the CIA payroll.

Julio Arrango Escobar will head the investigation into the death of Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, a guerrilla commander who witnesses have claimed was tortured and killed by the army in March 1992. The military has said that Bamaca apparently died in combat.

Leopoldo Mejia Coc will investigate the June 1990 murder of American innkeeper Michael DeVine.

Bamaca’s American wife, Jennifer Harbury, staged hunger strikes to demand that Guatemalan authorities investigate her husband’s disappearance. The hunger strikes helped focus White House attention on the cases, leading to accusations that Alpirez, a CIA-paid informant, was implicated in both deaths.

Alpirez denies involvement. He was suspended by the army last month.

Guatemalan Attorney General Ramses Cuestas announced Saturday that lawyer Leonel Machuca had been relieved of responsibility for both cases.

Edward Villatoro, Cuestas’ spokesman, told The Associated Press that Machuca failed to appeal a military court’s decision in April to close the Bamaca case. The court ruled there was a lack of proof.

``He also failed to notify the (attorney general) of his decision to accept the military court’s pronouncement,″ Villatoro said.

The military court did not hear testimony from guerrilla Santiago Cabrera, who in 1993 told the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva that he saw Alpirez and other military officials torture Bamaca.

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