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5th arrest made in Guatemala deaths

Ex-officer turns himself in, and his lawyer asks that he be protected.

March 01, 2007|From the Associated Press

GUATEMALA CITY — The fifth of six former Guatemalan police officers suspected in the killings of three Salvadoran politicians and their driver turned himself in Wednesday. Prosecutors said the ex-officer allegedly bought the gasoline used to burn the victims.

Marvin Roberto Contreras Natareno may be one of the last living links to the Feb. 19 killings. Four suspects previously arrested were killed by gunmen Sunday while in prison.

"Investigations place Marvin Roberto Contreras Natareno at the scene of the killings of the four people, and we can present telephone records that place him at the gasoline station" to buy the gasoline, prosecutor Candido Bremmer said.

Contreras Natareno turned himself in at police headquarters, and his lawyer asked that he be held someplace where his life would not be in danger.

Contreras Natareno was an investigator at the police organized crime unit, where the sixth suspect -- who is still at large -- also worked.

The slain Salvadoran politicians were lawmakers, including Eduardo Jose D'Aubuisson, son of El Salvador's late right-wing leader Roberto D'Aubuisson.

The suspects were accused of killing the Salvadorans, setting fire to their bodies and leaving their charred remains along a rural road outside Guatemala City. Officials say some of the politicians were alive when they were set on fire.

Guatemalan President Oscar Berger said "organized crime gangs" reached the officers' cell after getting past eight locked doors at the prison.

Berger said it was still not clear whether drug trafficking or other organized crime was involved, but a major question is how the gunmen were able to get past the doors to reach the suspects.

Investigators have said they are not ruling out any motive in the killing of the Salvadorans. But officials have suggested that rogue police might not have realized who their victims were, or that the mastermind of the crime might have tricked them into targeting the Salvadorans by telling them the victims were drug dealers.

Berger has said he is "not ruling out the possibility that it was a political crime."

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