Guatemalan ex-president to await trial in jail

Otto Pérez Molina has been sent to prison as Guatemala awaits final election results

Guatemalan ex-president to await trial in jail

World Bulletin / News Desk

Former Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina was sent to jail Tuesday to await trial on corruption charges.

Pérez Molina resigned last Wednesday after an arrest warrant was issued for his arrest. He appeared in court for an initial hearing the following morning and was detained until the hearing concluded Tuesday.

The ex-president was formally indicted on charges of customs fraud, passive bribery and illicit association. Prosecutors argue he was a key figure in a criminal network that defrauded the state of an estimated $120 million in customs revenue.

“There are sufficient reasonable indications that establish his connection to the network”, Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez said in court Tuesday.

Gálvez determined Pérez Molina could tamper with evidence and obstruct the investigation. He gave prosecutors three months to pursue their investigation.

The former president will spend his pretrial detention in the Matamoros military facility. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 21.

Guatemalan prosecutors and the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala first cracked down on the customs fraud network in April following an eight-month investigation. The head of the National Tax Office and other high level officials were arrested.

The revelations gave rise to a broad-based citizens’ movement against corruption with Guatemalans taking to the streets every week for massive street demonstrations demanding, among other things, Pérez Molina’s resignation.

General elections were held Sunday, in the midst of the initial legal proceedings against Pérez Molina. Voters dealt a severe blow to the ruling Patriotic Party, which received less than 5 percent of votes in the presidential race.

The country continued waiting Tuesday for preliminary final results. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal has yet to transmit the results from 240 polling stations, which represent a little more than percent of the total.

A runoff election between the top two contenders for president will be held in October, as no candidate obtained an outright majority.

National Convergence Front (FCN) candidate Jimmy Morales will be on the ballot. National Unity of Hope (UNE) presidential hopeful Sandra Torres publicly announced Monday that she would join him on the ticket, but second place has yet to become official.

Torres continued Tuesday to maintain her lead against Renewed Democratic Liberty (LIDER) candidate Manuel Baldizón.

More than 4,000 votes separate the two candidates.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Eylül 2015, 11:16