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Guatemala To Exhume Archbishop

September 17, 1998

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) _ The body of slain Archbishop Juan Gerardi will be exhumed on Thursday to try to determine if he had been bitten by a dog belonging to the priest jailed for the crime.

Judge Isaias Figueroa Medina said Wednesday that he had ordered the exhumation.

The Roman Catholic archbishop was clubbed to death on April 26, two days after he delivered a church-sponsored human rights report blaming the military and pro-government death squads for most of the deaths during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war, which ended in 1996.

The exhumation may be key in determining whether Gerardi was killed by a fellow priest, Rev. Mario Orantes Najera, as prosecutors charge, or by those angered by his human rights work.

Orantes lived in Gerardi’s residence at the time of the killing and owns a dog that reportedly responded only to his command. Spanish experts said they saw evidence of bite marks in photographs of Gerardi’s body.

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