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LATIN AMERICA | 11-09-2017 20:06

Guatemala congress commission: President should face trial

Prosecutors allege around US$825,000 in 2015 campaign financing was hidden.

A five-member commission of Guatemalan legislators has recommended lifting President Jimmy Morales' immunity from prosecution following a UN probe, so he can face possible trial on campaign-finance accusations.

Commission head Julio Ixcamey said late Sunday night the recommendation will be submitted to the full congress, where 105 of the 158 deputies would have to vote in favour. At least 105 deputies need to back the motion to lift Morales' immunity. But analysts believe that is unlikely, given the alliances that the president's conservative National Convergence Front party has.

"We declare ourselves in favor of the immunity being lifted," Ixcamey told journalists.

Prosecutors allege that about $825,000 in financing for Morales’ 2015 campaign was hidden and that other expenditures had no explainable source of funding. The president has denied any wrongdoing.

The investigation involved Ivan Velasquez, the head of the UN International Committee Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) operating in Guatemala. The president later ordered Velasquez’s immediate expulsion from the country, but that was swiftly overturned by the Constitutional Court.

The CICIG is widely respected in Guatemala. It helped Guatemalan prosecutors investigate a corruption scandal that toppled the previous president, Otto Perez, in 2015, paving the way for the election of Morales, a former TV comic with no previous political experience who campaigned on anti-corruption promises.


- AP/AFP


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