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Wednesday, February 10, 1999 Published at 01:52 GMT

World: Americas

Guatemalan priest must stay in prison

A Guatemalan judge has ruled that a Roman Catholic priest must remain in prison pending his hearing on a charge of killing Bishop Juan Gerardi last year.

The country's chief prosecutor had asked for Mario Orantes, who has suffered ill-health since his arrest in July, to be set free on humanitarian grounds.

But the judge, Henry Monroy, decided against granting a pre-trial release, saying the request was legally inadmissible.

The judge will decide next Tuesday if there is enough evidence to charge Father Orantes.

The priest has always maintained his innocence.

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