American's Search for Body of Guerrilla Husband Postponed
Jun. 16, 1995
MALACATAN, Guatemala (AP) _ An American attorney postponed a search Friday for the body of her husband, a missing guerrilla leader whose death is allegedly linked to a CIA-paid colonel in the Guatemalan army.
Jennifer Harbury brought international attention to the case when she held hunger strikes in Guatemala City and in front of the White House last year.
Special prosecutor Julio Arango Escobar said late Thursday that a judge in Tecun Uman, 28 miles north of Malacatan in northwestern Guatemala, had ordered the search to go ahead Friday for the body of Efrain Bamaca.
But Harbury said it was postponed when it became clear the permit to begin digging was valid only for one day.
``We can't even cut the grass off in one day,'' Harbury said. ``This is totally abnormal. It is to give the appearance that justice is being done when really it is not.''
Arango said Guatemala's attorney general, Ramses Cuestas Gomez, informed him the permit to search for Bamaca's body was good for only 24 hours. He said Cuestas did not say why.
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.
She believes he may be be buried at the site of the Las Cabanas military post, near the Mexican border.
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 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.
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.