By Associated Press - Sunday, July 15, 2012

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Roman Catholic Church officials say a Guatemalan judge has ordered the release of a former colonel sentenced to 20 years in prison for the killing of a bishop during the Central American country’s 36-year civil war.

Byron Disrael Lima Estrada was freed for good behavior after serving 11 years for his conviction in the murder of Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi. The 80-year-old former soldier had been hospitalized the past seven years.

Archdiocese spokesman Nery Rodenas says the church received formal notification of the release Friday.

Gerardi was slain in April 1998, two days after releasing a report on abuses of power during the civil war. Many of the abuses were blamed on the army.

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