Guatemala’s top court has issued a ruling that would could keep at least some corrupt public officials, including judges, out of prison
GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemala’s top court has issued a ruling that would could keep at least some corrupt public officials, including judges, out of prison.
The Constitutional Court’s action on Thursday 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.
The country’s efforts against corruption have come under wide criticism at home and abroad in recent months. The previous anti-corruption prosecutor was fired and fled the country in July, citing fears for his safety.
Those fears appears to be borne out on Thursday when the attorney general who filed him, Consuelo Porras, said on Twitter that her office was investigating possible criminal charges against Juan Francisco Sandoval for allegedly revealing confidential information and other allegations.
Sandoval’s ouster had led the United States to say it had lost confidence in Guatemala’s commitment to battling corruption and it temporarily suspended cooperation with the Attorney General’s Office.
And thousands of Guatemalans staged street demonstrations last month denouncing corruption.
In 2019, former 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.
The U.S. this year published a list of allegedly corrupt officials in the region, accusing former President Alvaro Colom of involvement in fraud and embezzlement and Vasquez, along with Supreme Court Justice Manuel Duarte Barrera, of abuse of authority..