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Guatemala Congress to Review Presidential Immunity Over Graft Scandals

  • Reuters

FILE - Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, April 10, 2015

FILE - Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, April 10, 2015

Guatemala's Supreme Court on Wednesday said Congress would decide whether to strip President Otto Perez of his immunity from prosecution to face investigation over corruption scandals that have battered his government.

The Supreme Court accepted opposition lawmaker Amilcar Pop's motion to remove Perez's immunity, passing it to Congress to examine if there were grounds for doing so.

If granted, the petition would be unprecedented in the modern history of the Central American nation. Perez's right-wing Patriot Party does not have a majority in Congress.

Demonstrators have staged marches in Guatemala City calling for Perez to resign over the corruption allegations, which have rocked his cabinet in the last six weeks. The silver-haired Perez himself has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Last month, Vice President Roxana Baldetti stood down after news reports linked her to a customs corruption racket, though she denied any wrongdoing. A few days later, several officials including the central bank chief and a former personal secretary to Perez were arrested over a bribery probe.

Lawmaker Pop wants Perez investigated over the cases.

Soon after the arrests, a number of top cabinet officials who had been accused of graft in media reports also resigned.

Presidential spokesman Jorge Ortega said the Guatemalan government would follow the process and await the congressional decision on the request to strip Perez of immunity.

Guatemala holds the first round of its next presidential elections in September. The law bars the 64-year-old Perez from seeking reelection.

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