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Guatemala congressional panel recommends lifting president's immunity

[JURIST] A Guatemalan congressional committee on Sunday recommended that President Jimmy Morales' immunity should be voided so the attorney general and the UN can investigate illegal campaign financing allegations. According to the attorney general and head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala [official website], Morales misappropriated [JURIST report] over $800,000 from his 2015 campaign The recommendation to void immunity will be forwarded to Congress, and a final vote is expected next week. At least a two-thirds majority is needed to lift immunity. Morales continues to deny all allegations of illegal funding of his 2015 campaign.

Guatemala has a history of political scandal. In August Guatemala's Constitutional Court blocked the expulsion [JURIST report] of the lead UN anti-corruption official after Morales ordered his expulsion, alleging the official misused his authoritative position. On that same day, Morales fired the foreign minister for failure to execute the order and replaced him another who is currently under investigation for illegal adoptions. Former president Otto Pérez Molina and ex-vice president Roxana Baldetti were accused [JURIST report] of taking nearly 130 million in bribes in the beginning of 2011 by Guatemalan Attorney General Thelma Aldana. In August 2015 the Guatemalan Supreme Court approved [JURIST report] prosecutors' requests to impeach Molina after he announced his intent to not resign after the scandal broke. In October, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] welcomed a draft bill [JURIST report] on constitutional justice reforms in the Guatemala legislature, which "represents an historic opportunity to consolidate the remarkable progress the country has achieved in the fight against impunity and corruption in recent years." In June a Guatemalan judge who served as general secretary for Guatemala's soccer federation pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to fraud and conspiracy in the FIFA scandal.

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