Video Made by Guatemalan Lawyer Blames His Slaying on President

By William Booth
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, May 14, 2009

The explosive videotape that has thrown Guatemala into crisis features a lawyer, very much alive, wearing a coat and tie, sitting at a desk.

In a voice calm and clear, he announces: "Good afternoon. My name is Rodrigo Rosenberg Marzano, and sadly, if you are watching this message, it is because I have been murdered."

He continues: "If you are hearing or seeing this message, it is because I was assassinated by President Álvaro Colom."

Rosenberg, a respected lawyer with a roster of prominent clients, was killed Sunday morning in Guatemala City as he rode a bicycle around his neighborhood. Unknown assailants fired three bullets, and he died on the street.

The video was released Monday at Rosenberg's funeral. In the tape, he also blames his death on Guatemalan first lady Sandra de Colom, the president's private secretary and a business partner.

Thousands of Guatemalans have watched the video on various Web sites, crashing servers overwhelmed by the sudden explosions of traffic.

Protesters, brought together by Facebook, have assembled outside the presidential palace calling for Colom to step aside while the case is investigated. Meanwhile, Colom and his supporters charge that the tape is the concoction of his enemies, including organized crime.

Dina Fernández, a columnist for El Periódico, wrote, "The government is cornered and the question of the hour is what are we citizens going to do?"

The video was made with the help and at the office of journalist-lawyer Mario David García, who told the newspaper Prensa Libre that Rosenberg had asked him to release the tape if anything happened to him.

In an emergency address to the nation, Colom denied having anything to do with Rosenberg's death.

"The video is totally false, my conscience is clear," Colom said. "This government is not guilty of thuggery or assassination."

Rosenberg says on the tape that he feared for his life because of his work for two clients, Guatemalan businessman Khalil Musa and his daughter Marjorie Musa. Khalil Musa, a wealthy and well-known exporter of coffee and textiles, was named by Colom to the board of directors for the state-owned Rural Development Bank, known as Banrural.

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