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Guatemalans Accused Of Beating American Woman Freed

FRIDAY, FEB. 3, 1995

Thirty-five Guatemalan men accused in the severe beating of an Alaskan journalist were set free by a regional criminal court Thursday for lack of evidence.

The district attorney of the town of Coban said he planned to appeal the ruling.

“There is sufficient evidence that they were the assailants of the American,” District Attorney Mario Alfonso Ramirez Ramos said, adding that 25 others implicated in the attack remain free.

Diane June Weinstock, a journalist and environmentalist from Fairbanks, Alaska, was taking pictures in the Verapaz town of San Cristobal, 130 miles north of Guatemala City, last March when a mob set upon her, beating and stabbing her. Weinstock, 52, was left for dead.

The assailants had been spurred by rumors that foreigners were stealing Guatemalan children to use their organs for transplants. They accused Weinstock of kidnapping a child during a Holy Week parade.

Weinstock was rescued by authorities and hospitalized. She was still unconscious when she returned to Alaska in April, and was recovering from three skull fractures.

The Guatemala Archbishop’s Human Rights Office later concluded that the rumors and subsequent attacks were instigated by the army.

Tags: Assault

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