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Last Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Guatemala ex-head dies in exile
Guatemalan former President Romeo Lucas Garcia, whose 1978-1982 government was accused of rights abuses, has died aged 81 in a hospital in Venezuela.

Under his rule in 1980, police raided the Spanish embassy which had been occupied by student and labour activists, killing 37 people.

Spain unsuccessfully applied for his extradition from Venezuela to try him.

Gen Lucas Garcia was overthrown in 1982 by Gen Efrain Rios Montt, whose rule was among the bloodiest in Guatemala.

Gen Lucas Garcia had lived in Venezuela since the 1980s.

Last year, Venezuelan authorities refused to extradite him to Spain to face charges of human rights abuses.

The charges were based on testimony by the Guatemalan 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchu, whose father was among the 37 people killed in the raid on the Spanish embassy.

Security forces stormed the building which had been taken over by activists who opposed the government.

"Death came and saved him from facing judgement," Eduardo de Leon of the Rigoberta Menchu Foundation told the Associated Press.

Gen Lucas Garcia is survived by his Venezuelan wife and two children.

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