Guatemala president stripped of immunity

Guatemala president stripped of immunity

[JURIST] Guatemala’s congress on Monday stripped President Otto Pérez Molina of his immunity by a unanimous vote of the 132 members who were present. This vote allows prosecutors to go after the president for corruption allegations. Pérez Molina and about 30 other government officials are accused 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 in August. The result of the legislative vote was met with fireworks and large crowds [El Periódico report, in Spanish] outside of the capitol building. The decision was later sent to the Supreme Court of Justice [official website, in Spanish] to be finalized.

Pérez Molina announced [JURIST report] last month that he has no plans to resign. Days later, Guatemala’s Supreme Court approved [JURIST report] prosecutors’ requests to impeach the president. 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.