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Guatemalan Judge Charges Former President in Bribery Case


FILE - Former Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina and his former vice president, Roxanna Baldetti, listen during a court hearing in Guatemala City, May 6, 2016. Twenty-three people had been arrested on charges related to the alleged illegal financing of the political party that carried Perez Molina to power, Guatemalan authorities said.

A Guatemalan judge on Wednesday charged former President Otto Perez with money laundering and bribery in a massive corruption case in which 52 others were also accused, including former ministers, business people and lawyers.

Perez and former Vice President Roxana Baldetti are accused of receiving hundreds of bribes for public contracts during their administration.

Perez and Baldetti denied the charges, and the rest of the accused also said they were innocent.

The judge based his decision on evidence presented by the state prosecutor's office and the U.N.- and U.S.-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which included witness statements, electronic communications, accounting records and other documentation.

Perez and Baldetti resigned and were arrested last year over accusations that they were part of a customs racket, which they also denied.

They are currently in pre-trial detention.