- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
The too strange for words scandal surrounding the death of Guatemalan lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg — who apparently arranged his own assassination and blamed it on the Guatemalan government — seemed to come to a close today with the sentencing of the eight hit-men who carried out the deed:
Four of the accused men were sentenced to between 38 years and 48 years on homicide and other charges, and four other co-consipirators received eight-years sentences for "illegal association."
But sentences for two of the men were reduced to two years and to 12 years in return for the suspects’ cooperation with prosecutors. Another suspect was released after turning state’s evidence.
The eight were members or collaborators of a gang of hit men that planned and carried out the killing, allegedly for a payment that originated with Rosenberg himself.
Rosenberg’s death erupted into street protests and a major political scandal after a YouTube video was circulated showing the antigovernment laweyer, "If you are watching this message, it is because I was assassinated by President Alvaro Colom."
Rosenberg reportedly believed that Colom’s government was behind the murder of one of his clients and arranged to be fatally shot while riding his bicycle. The plan backfired when a subsequent U.N. investigation exonerated Colom.
It’s tempting to try to draw some larger lesson from this case about the unreliability of social media or commentators jumping to conclusions at the smallest sign of unrest, but it’s probably too unusual for that.