Guatemala killing referred to Justice in '91, sources say


WASHINGTON -- The CIA, concerned that a Guatemalan colonel might have been responsible for the slaying of an American, turned their suspicions over to U.S. attorneys four years ago, sources said.

The Justice Department concluded that Col. Julio Roberto Alpirez could not be prosecuted under U.S. law because the death of Michael Devine, an American innkeeper in Guatemala, was not a politically motivated crime against the United States, the sources said.

Colonel Alpirez was implicated later in the murder of Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, a rebel guerrilla married to an American lawyer. Both deaths are at the center of investigations to determine whether he had been a paid informant for the CIA and whether U.S. officials misled Congress and the White House.

"Because the CIA had information related to the murder of an American citizen, it brought the matter to the attention of the Department of Justice for their review," a U.S. intelligence source said yesterday.

A Justice official said the CIA referred the matter to federal prosecutors in November 1991. They concluded that Colonel Alpirez could not be held accountable in U.S. courts.

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