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Saturday, April 25, 1998 Published at 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK



Despatches
image: [ BBC Correspondent: Emma Paterson ]Emma Paterson
Mexico City

The Roman Catholic Church in Guatemala has formally published the results of a three-year investigation into the atrocities committed during the country's civil war. But as our Central America Correspondent, Emma Paterson, reports, the document fails to name those responsible for the violence and offers little hope they will ever be brought to trial:

The overwhelming majority of the victims were unarmed civilians, many of them killed during army massacres on Indian villages.


Alice Jay, Catholic Institute of International affairs :'Details are horrifying, disappearances, torture, rape ...' (3'03")
This is the first in-depth investigation into atrocities which have been largely covered up during the past few decades, but some human rights groups are disappointed that the report fails to name those responsible for the killings.

Those involved in the investigation say names were left out because of lack of proof. Many of those who survived army-led massacres were simply too frightened to come forward as witnesses.

It is proof of the climate of terror and insecurity which pervades Guatemalan society more than a year after a peace agreement was signed and left-wing rebels laid down their arms.

A separate international commission has been set up to carry out a similar investigation, but the terms of the peace accord will prevent it from singling out war criminals when it presents its findings later this year.

The government says the aim of the peace agreement is not to protect criminals, but to aid the process of forgiveness and reconciliation. As in so many other post-war societies, there are lingering doubts about whether there can be any true forgiveness without at least a public admission of guilt.





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