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Guatemala scandal: anti-corruption prosecutor escapes the country to save his life

One extraordinary scandal It is exploding in one of the poorest countries in Central America. A prosecutor in charge of preponderant causes of corruption in Guatemala, Juan Francisco Sandoval, and who was therefore dismissed by the government, had to flee the country to “protect his life,” after pointing out that he was prevented from investigating President Alejandro Giammattei.

The ombudsman Jordán Rodas accompanied Sandoval to the border with El Salvador, “faced with the tough decision to leave the country to protect his life and integrity due to the recent events, “the Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman (PDH) said on social networks. The final destination of the former prosecutor is unknown and sources from Salvadoran humanitarian organizations indicate that he has already left that country.

This Produraduría is an autonomous institution created by Congress to promote respect for human rights and monitor due process in legal cases. Its resolutions are not binding. Sandoval led the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI) and was dismissed on Friday by his boss, Attorney General Consuelo Porras, after denouncing a lack of support for his management. The measure provoked criticism from the US Foreign Ministry, which considered him an “anti-corruption champion”, in addition to questions from humanitarian groups, social and business organizations.

The controversial Guatemalan government rushed to get rid of the scandal, rejecting any pressure action against the lawyer on Sunday. “The Government of the Republic of Guatemala rcategorically rejects the statements made by the lawyer Juan Francisco SandovaHe (who) made statements about alleged criminal acts, making direct or indirect mention of the President, “said a government statement.

Sandoval said on Friday that his work at the Prosecutor’s Office encountered many obstacles, and was even asked not to investigate Giammattei without the consent of the Attorney General. The dismissal was announced in a statement from the Public Ministry, where it was stated that Sandoval’s trust had been withdrawn.

This Saturday, about 1,000 Guatemalans expressed their support for the former official and called for the resignation of the president and the Attorney General in the Plaza de la Central in front of the former seat of government in the capital. The protesters carried nationals and posters against the authorities.

Dozens shaved their hair with a hairdresser who came to the plaza with his instruments as a sign of rejection of the president’s statements that only “about 150 bald heads” (bald) came to demonstrate.

“We are not 150 bald men, we ask for the resignation of the disastrous prosecutor who is at the service of the president “Said a university student on a loudspeaker, while reproaching the president, a doctor by profession, for the mismanagement of the new coronavirus pandemic, the lack of vaccines and supplies in public hospitals.

“The dismissal of Juan Francisco SandovaHe is a setback for the rule of law in Guatemala “Julie Chung, Acting Undersecretary for the Americas of the US Foreign Ministry, said on Twitter.

“It contributes to the perception of a systematic effort in Guatemala to weaken those fighting corruption “, added. The United States even implemented a task force to support FECI.

The 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner, the Guatemalan indigenous leader Rigoberta Menchú, rejected, condemned and showed her indignation “for this new illegality and violation of the Constitution “of the country this Saturday.

Likewise, in a statement he requested the restitution of exfiscaly “resignation, trial and punishment of those who are responsible for violating the Constitution.”

“Faced with this dilemma, there is no alternative but to convene and reiterate a call for the national unity of our peoples to a great convergence, civic and citizen alliance” committed to the fight against corruption, sentenced.

In turn, the entities that make up the Center Against Impunity in North Central America (CCINOC), rejected the decision of the prosecutor Porras considering that it means “setbacks in the fight against corruption in the region.”

The Office of the Prosecutor was created to work together with the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, an entity attached to the UN, to fight corruption and impunity. The Commission ceased to function in 2019 by decision of then-President Jimmy Morales, who ruled between 2016 and 2020, after being singled out by both entities for electoral corruption.

Together, these offices, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Commission uncovered several cases of corruption, including a customs fraud which ended with the resignation of President Otto Pérez (2012-2015) and his Vice President Roxana Baldetti, accused of leading the scam. Both were arrested and are awaiting trial in prison.

Guatemala City, Jul 24, 2021 (AFP)
​MC

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