Slain lawyer's videotaped accusations stun Guatemala

A controversial video in which a now-murdered lawyer accuses President Alvaro Colom of masterminding his killing has shaken this nation's fragile democracy.

In the video, which spread across the airwaves and Internet soon after the lawyer's bullet-riddled body was found Sunday, Rodrigo Rosenberg said he had first-hand knowledge of the president's role in the murder of a businessman and warned video viewers: "If you are watching this message, it is because I was assassinated by President Alvaro Colom with help from Gustavo Alejos," the president's secretary.

Rosenberg's charges underscore the public's deep mistrust for the government, said Marco Antonio Barahona, director of political research for the think-tank Association of Investigation and Social Studies.

"For Guatemalans, the tape brought to light the suspicions people have had about their government: It's involved in a nexus of criminality, corruption and impunity," Barahona said. "When you have weak institutions and a weak government like Guatemala does, something like this threatens to break the democracy."

After predicting his own death, Rosenberg said in the video that he had direct knowledge that Colom, First Lady Sandra Torres de Colom and two others were behind the murder of Khalil Musa, 74, and his daughter, who were shot to death in April.

Rosenberg said Musa, a powerful businessman, refused to cooperate in an elaborate scheme that diverted public money to fake government programs and shell companies used by drug traffickers.

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