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Guatemala orders arrest of murder case prosecutor

Guatemalan authorities have ordered the arrest of a top prosecutor, alleging he destroyed evidence in an investigation linked to the unsolved murders of three Salvadoran politicians.

world Updated: Feb 01, 2009 04:57 IST

Guatemalan authorities have ordered the arrest of a top prosecutor, alleging he destroyed evidence in an investigation linked to the unsolved murders of three Salvadoran politicians, officials said on Friday.

Attorney General Amilcar Velasquez Zarate told a news conference a judge ordered the arrest of Alvaro Matus on Thursday after considering the evidence presented by Guatemala's anti-corruption agency. Police have not yet located Matus, Velasquez said.

Matus had been leading the probe into the slaying of a senior Interior Ministry official who had been investigating the killing of the politicians.

"We're talking about an act of organized crime which has been concealed within the public prosecutor's office," Carlos Castresana, the head of Guatemala's anti-corruption commission said at the news conference.

"We know of at least a dozen concrete examples -- searches that should have been carried out and weren't, documents that disappeared."

The charred, bullet-riddled bodies of the three Salvadoran representatives to a regional parliament were found on a back road in February 2007.

Authorities say drug gangs were behind the killings and the case has shed light on illegal armed groups operating within Guatemala's security forces and possible links between high- level officials and organized crime.

At least eight people linked to the case have been killed, including the four police officers accused of gunning down the politicians.

Guatemala, which emerged from a 36-year civil war in 1996, has one of the highest murder rates in Latin America and has become a major hub for drug traffickers moving cocaine from Colombia to Mexico for shipment to the United States.