Guatemala's former anti-corruption prosecutor faces arrest

Guatemalan officials say they're trying to arrest a former anti-corruption prosecutor whose ouster led the U.S. to reduce cooperation with the Central American nation’s legal system

Guatemala Corruption
Guatemala Corruption

Guatemalan officials confirmed Friday they are trying to arrest a fired anti-corruption prosecutor whose ouster led the United States to reduce cooperation with the Central American nation's legal system.

The arrest warrant for Juan Francisco Sandoval was confirmed by the spokesman for the prosecutor's office, Juan Luis Pantaleón a day after Attorney General Consuelo Porras said on Twitter that he was under investigation for allegedly leaking confidential information, among other allegations.

Sandoval, who said he had been investigating President Alejandro Giammattei and other senior officials, was fired on July 23 and fled the country, saying he feared for his safety.

Sandoval’s ouster had led the U.S. government to say it had lost confidence in Guatemala’s commitment to battling corruption and it temporarily suspended cooperation with the Attorney General’s Office.

Many Guatemalans, too, staged street protests in recent weeks accusing the government of quelling attempts to root out corrupt officials.

Suspicions were fed on Thursday when the country's top court issued a ruling that could keep some corrupt officials out of prison. The Constitutional Court overturned a law that had barred those sentenced for corruption to terms of five years or less from paying a fine instead of serving time behind bars.

It applies to convictions for crimes by public servants and those in the courts involving charges including fraud, bribery, passive embezzlement, abuse of authority and influence trafficking.

Among potential beneficiaries of the decision is one of the court's justices, Néster Vásquez, who has been accused by the Office of the Special Prosecutor Against Impunity of manipulating the election of judges to other

Vazquez was included in a recently published U.S. list of allegedly corrupt officials in the region, along with former President Alvaro Colom, who was accused of involvement in fraud and embezzlement.

In 2019, then-President Jimmy Morales forced out a U.N.-backed anti-corruption mission that had worked with local prosecutors to root out graft and had led to the imprisonment of several senior officials, including former President Otto Perez Molina.

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