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Guatemala top court sends legislators request to lift president's immunity

[JURIST] The Guatemalan Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] ruled on Monday that legislators will review a request to lift President Jimmy Morales's immunity from prosecution amid mounting evidence of illegal political financing. According to prosecutors, Morales's 2015 presidential campaign secretly received [Al Jazeera report] $825,000 in financing, and certain expenses were paid for by an unknown source of funding. While Morales has denied such accusations, Morales' political party, the National Convergence Front, and several others are currently under investigation. When Colombian prosecutor Ivan Velasquez announced [JURIST report] his intention to have Morales' immunity lifted last month, Morales ordered Velasquez deported. Last Tuesday, however, the Supreme Court responded by suspending the order. The Supreme Court has stated that there is sufficient evidence to transfer the case to Congress. A five-committee must now be formed to review the case and issue a conclusion on the matter. The request will need 105 out of 158 votes in order to successfully lift Morales' immunity.

Guatemala has a history of political scandal. 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 pled guilty [JURIST report] to fraud and conspiracy in the FIFA scandal.

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