Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Guatemala | Expelled anti-corruption prosecutor leaves country to ‘protect his life’

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Cole Hanson
Cole Hanson
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(Guatemala) A prominent Guatemalan anti-corruption investigator, Juan Francisco Sandoval, fled the country on Saturday to “protect his life,” according to a human rights official, hours after he was removed from his post.

Sandoval accompanied a mediator to the Salvadoran border following his “difficult decision to leave the country to save his life and safety due to recent events,” according to the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman. Guatemala.

The final destination of the former prosecutor is unknown, and sources from Salvadoran humanitarian organizations indicate that he has already left the country.

Sandoval was dismissed from his position as head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (FECI) on Friday by Attorney General Consuelo Porras.

The Prosecutor’s Office justified this dismissal by “continuous abuses and repeated violations” of the institution and attempts to “undermine” the “work, integrity and dignity” of the master.I Boras.

The move drew criticism from the US State Department, which called Juan Francisco Sandoval a “hero in the fight against corruption,” as well as from several humanitarian organizations, members of civil society and businesses.

In a tweet, State Department for the Americas Julie Chung condemned “a major setback for the rule of law.”

She added that the dismissal “feeds the impression that there is a systematic effort in Guatemala to undermine those known to fight corruption.”

Mr Sandoval said Friday that he faced many obstacles in his work at FECI and was asked not to investigate President Alejandro Giamatti without the attorney general’s approval, a request he said was “against the independence and independence” of FECI.

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The Central North American Anti-Corruption and Impunity Center (CCINOC) also denounced the decision, which would lead to “setbacks in the fight against corruption in the region”.

On Saturday, some 1,000 protesters took to the streets of the capital, Guatemala, in solidarity with Mr Sandoval and demanded the resignation of the president and attorney general.

The protesters also criticized Alejandro Giamatti, a doctor by profession, for his management of the epidemic and the lack of vaccines and equipment in public hospitals.

FECI, attached to the prosecution, investigates large-scale corruption cases. She worked alongside the now-dissolved International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), created in 2006 by an agreement between the United Nations and Parliament, which exposed several scandals but whose mandate was not renewed in 2019 by Former Guatemalan President, Jimmy. Morales (2006-2020).

One of the most important revelations was the customs fraud that led to the resignation of then-President Otto Perez (2012-2015), accused of leading a network collecting bribes from businessmen in order to evade tax authorities.

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