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Guatemala Supreme Court approves criminal investigation of president

[JURIST] Guatemala's Supreme Court on Tuesday approved prosecutors' requests to impeach President Otto Perez Molina for corruption allegations, despite the president having immunity from prosecution. Perez Molina and about 30 other government officials are accused [AFP report] of taking millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for keeping low import duties. Eight other government officials have already resigned over the allegations, and Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti was arrested last week. The matter now goes before the congress. Earlier this month, the Guatemalan congress voted [Reuters report] to strip away Perez Molina's immunity, but the measure did not pass with the required two-thirds majority.

Perez Molina announced [JURIST report] on Sunday that he has no plans to resign. In July the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) [official website] reported [JURIST report] that approximately a quarter of the money used for Guatemalan political campaigns comes from criminal groups. The day before, the commission petitioned to take away the immunity of one of Guatemala's vice presidential contender, Edgar Barquin for allegedly laundering money that was used to fund his political campaign. In February former Guatemalan president Alfonso Portillo was released [JURIST report] from a US prison after serving a sentence for taking bribes from Taiwan.

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