July 14, 2012 in Nation/World

In brief: Colonel convicted for killing bishop freed early

 

GUATEMALA CITY – Roman Catholic Church officials say a Guatemalan judge has ordered the release of a former colonel sentenced to 20 years in prison for the killing of a bishop during the Central American country’s 36-year civil war.

Byron Disrael Lima Estrada was freed for good behavior after serving 11 years for his conviction in the murder of Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi. The 80-year-old former soldier was hospitalized the past seven years.

Archdiocese spokesman Nery Rodenas says the church received formal notification of the release Friday.

Gerardi was slain in April 1998, two days after releasing a report on abuses of power during the civil war. Many of the abuses were blamed on the army.

Well-known Afghan leader among 20 dead in blast

KABUL, Afghanistan – A suicide attacker blew himself up Saturday in a wedding hall in northern Afghanistan, killing more than 20 people including a well-known commander and other local leaders, Afghan officials said.

The death of Ahmad Khan Samangani, an ethnic Uzbek who is also a member of parliament, is a blow to efforts to unify Afghanistan’s various ethnic factions.

Conflict between the Taliban – who come mostly from the country’s biggest group, the Pashtuns – and members of its ethnic minorities is nothing new in a nation whose history is scarred by bloody civil strife, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai needs minority groups – loosely known as the Northern Alliance – to back his efforts to reconcile with the Taliban.

Ghulam Mohammad Khan, the criminal director of the provincial police, said more than 20 people died in the morning blast in Aybak, the capital of Samangan province.


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