May 12, 2009 / 9:44 PM / 10 years ago

Video of murdered lawyer stirs scandal in Guatemala

By Sarah Grainger

GUATEMALA CITY, May 12 (Reuters) - Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom denied involvement in the murder of a prominent lawyer on Tuesday after a video surfaced blaming the president for the crime and accusing him of money laundering.

Rodrigo Rosenberg, the legal representative of a well-known businessman who was killed in April, was gunned down in an upscale Guatemala City suburb on Sunday.

The day after his murder, a written statement and a video was delivered to the Guatemalan media, with Rosenberg warning he might be killed and accusing Colom of ordering the hit.

"If you are watching this message it is because I have been murdered by Alvaro Colom," Rosenberg said in a 20-minute speech. He also said Colom, his wife and his personal secretary were covering up a money laundering scheme.

Colom called a news conference Monday night and again on Tuesday to deny involvement and blame opponents who want to destabilize his government.

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

Several hundred people protested in the capital on Tuesday demanding the resignation of the president.

Since his inauguration in January 2008, Colom has struggled to contain violence from street gangs and powerful Mexican drug cartels operating in the country.

Rosenberg said his murdered client, Khalil Musa, was about to blow the whistle on schemes to divert government funds and finance drug businesses at Banrural bank.

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