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Latino Daily News

Saturday January 14, 2012

Guatemala Congressman Killed as Inauguration Nears

Guatemala Congressman Killed as Inauguration Nears

Photo: Valentin Leal Caal

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Congressman Oscar Valentin Leal and his brother were murdered here Friday on the eve of retired Gen. Otto Perez Molina’s inauguration as Guatemala’s president.

The slain lawmaker won re-election in September on the ticket of the Lider party, but had decided Thursday to switch his allegiance to Perez Molina’s rightist Patriot Party, the president-elect said.

It was not the first such switch for Leal, who entered Congress in 2009 as a member of the social-democratic UNE party of outgoing President Alvaro Colom.

Perez Molina said Leal contacted him Thursday night to complain of “pressure” and threats and to say that he was going into hiding.

“We lament the violence and the insecurity. It’s sad that these types of situations continue,” the 61-year-old Perez Molina said, calling on the Attorney General’s Office to ensure the crime does not go unpunished.

Detectives are examining footage from security cameras installed on the street where the attack took place, police spokesman Jorge Aguilar told reporters.

Leal, who represented the northern province of Alta Verapaz and his brother were traveling in an SUV when they were intercepted and shot by assailants aboard two motorcycles, witnesses said.

A bodyguard accompanying the brothers was wounded, authorities said.