Wednesday 22 November 2017

Request to lift Guatemala president's immunity to go before legislators

Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales, centre (AP)
Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales, centre (AP)

Guatemala's Supreme Court has ruled that a request to lift President Jimmy Morales's immunity from prosecution should go before legislators for final consideration.

The court's decision on the request from prosecutors is related to allegations of illegal financing for Mr Morales's 2015 campaign.

Investigations have targeted several political parties including his National Convergence Front.

"There appears to be sufficient evidence to allow the transfer of the case to congress," Supreme Court spokesman Angel Pineda said.

Congress must now form a five-member committee to examine the case and present its conclusion to the full body.

For the immunity of office Mr Morales enjoys as president to be lifted, 105 of the 158 deputies would have to vote in favour.

He issued a statement on Monday saying he would continue to respect the country's institutions, and asking Guatemalans to remain objective.

Prosecutors allege that about 825,000 US dollars (£638,000) in financing for his campaign was hidden and that other expenditures had no explainable source of funding.

The president has denied any wrongdoing.

Last month chief prosecutor Thelma Adana and Ivan Velasquez, the head of a UN anti-corruption commission operating in Guatemala, announced they were seeking to have Mr Morales's immunity withdrawn.

Two days later the president ordered Mr Velasquez's immediate expulsion from the country, but that was swiftly overturned by the Constitutional Court.

AP

Press Association

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