Guatemala’s Perez urged to resign

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GUATEMALA CITY: Guatemala’s top prosecutor on Wednesday urged President Otto Perez to resign due to corruption charges against him, to keep the country stable amid widespread anti-government demonstrations.

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The prosecutor general of the nation “recommends that the constitutional president of the Republic of Guatemala offer his resignation to stave off the inability to govern that national instability could cause,” said a statement from the office, which acts as representative of the state in legal affairs.

Guatemala’s Supreme Court on Tuesday gave a green light for embattled Perez to be investigated for graft in the corruption scandal rocking his government.

Prosecutors have sought to open an investigation of the president, who as chief executive enjoys immunity from prosecution. The high court allowed the request to move forward, a spokesman said.

The measure will now be sent on to lawmakers, who will address on Thursday whether Perez’s immunity will be stripped.

A judge ruled earlier Wednesday that Perez’s former vice president Roxana Baldetti must remain in jail pending trial on charges of defrauding the customs service of millions of dollars.

Judge Miguel Angel Galvez said he considered it “prudent” to deny bail to Baldetti, whom prosecutors and a special UN investigative commission accuse of masterminding a customs bribery ring along with Perez.

Baldetti, 53, is accused of running a scheme in which businesses bribed officials to clear their imports through customs at a fraction of the actual tax rate.

Prosecutors accuse her of taking a 50 percent cut on all illegally slashed customs payments, for a total of some $3.8 million between May 2014 and April 2015.

The scandal erupted in April, when the UN’s International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) accused one of Baldetti’s top aides of involvement in the bribery scheme.

Baldetti resigned on May 8.

The scandal has sparked mass protests in Guatemala as the country prepares to hold elections on September 6 to decide Perez’s successor.

AFP

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