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Otto Perez Molina
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/E. Biba

Guatemala's president to face trial

September 9, 2015

A Guatemala court has ruled that fallen president Otto Perez Molina will face trial over alleged corruption. He's being held in jail as the country heads into the second round of a presidential election.


Judge Miguel Angel Galvez in his ruling Tuesday said there were "sufficient indications" that Perez Molina took part in a scam that allegedly helped importers to avoid paying millions in customs duties to justify trial.

Galvez stressed, however, that involvement by the ex-president (pictured above) in wrongdoing had not yet been proven.

Guatemala's congress accepted Monila's resignation last Thursday and appointed vice president Alejandro Maldonado as interim president. Perez Molina, a former general who was elected 2011 on an anti-corruption mandate, was detained on Friday.

In recorded conversations, played Tuesday in court, former vice president, Roxana Baldetti, was heard to refer to Perez Molina as "chairman of the company," "number 1" and "owner of the estate."

Baldetti, who denies wrongdoing, was arrested last month over the scam after a major probe by a United Nations-backed anti-corruption body known as the CICIG. The incident has implicated some 20 officials, including a central bank president.

Prosecutors moved against Perez Molina after running 89,000 telephone taps, intercepting 6,000 emails and mounting 17 investigative raids.

Comic actor Morales into second round

Last Sunday's preliminary presidential poll outcome was uncertain on Tuesday as counting continued to decide the second- and third-placed candidates.

Guatemala Präsidentschaftskandidat Jimmy Morales
Morales looks set to contest run-offImage: Getty Images/AFP/O. Estrada

Comic actor turned centrist outsider Jimmy Morales was on 24 percent and was tipped to face either former first lady Sandra Torres, who was on 19.7 percent, or conservative businessman Manuel Baldizon, who was on 19.6 percent early Tuesday.

Luis Fernando Mack, a professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Guatemala, said the electoral tribunal has a delicate situation on its hands while counting for second place.

"The fight will be fierce, they're going to fight for every vote," Mack said, referring to Torres' and Baldizon's campaign teams.

The runoff election is due to take place on 25 October.

ipj/jr (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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