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Guatemalan soldiers circle corruption investigators

September 1, 2018

The mandate for a UN-backed anti-corruption commission has been ended by the Guatemalan president, himself under investigation. Soldiers surrounded the complex in the country's capital.

CICIG spokesman Matias Ponce speaks to reporters, surrounded by police
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Castillo

Events around human rights investigations moved forward apace in the Guatemalan capital on Friday.

First off, spokesman for the corruption-probing International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), Matias Ponce (photo), said at least 12 military vehicles were outside their facility in the Guatemalan capital.

It was unclear what the motive of the operation was.

CICIG mandate ended

Then, President Jimmy Morales, who is suspected of receiving at least $1 million (€860,000) in undeclared contributions during the 2015 election campaign, said his government had written to the UN advising the CICIG mandate would not be renewed. It was time to transfer the commission's capacities to Guatemalan institutions, he said.

"We have officially notified the Secretary General of the United Nations that we will not renew the mandate of the CICIG," Morales told a news conference. The CICIG had started its work in 2007.

The president denies all accusations against him, and has had a stormy relationship with the CICIG and its efforts to have him impeached for alleged corruption. He accused the CICIG of sowing "judicial terror."

In front of military officers, President Jimmy Morales announced an end to the mandate of the UN-sponsored CICIG commission.
In front of military officers, President Jimmy Morales announced an end to the mandate of the UN-sponsored CICIG commission. Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/O. de Roos

Congressional commission starts to work

Also on Friday, the head of the congressional commission reviewing the case to remove Morales' immunity from prosecution, opposition lawmaker Luis Fernando Montenegro, said they had received 5,300 pages on the case from the Supreme Court of Justice, so they could begin their work.

Last week, the Supreme Court allowed the request to remove Morales' immunity from prosecution to continue to Congress. If 105 lawmakers vote in favor, he could be investigated for illicit campaign funding.

Morales' predecessor, Otto Perez, was removed from office due to a graft probe led by the CICIG. He, his former vice-president and a number of other government officials are in prison while on trial.

jm/aw (EFE, Reuters)

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