World Bulletin / News Desk
Guatemalan lawmakers voted Tuesday to strip the country’s president of his immunity from prosecution, just days before the country’s general election.
All 132 legislators present voted in favor of the motion. The votes of 105 lawmakers, two thirds of the 158 total, were needed. There were 26 absentees.
“We based [the decision] on conclusive facts: wiretaps, trips, gifts”, said opposition party legislator Nineth Montenegro -- one of the five members of the congressional commission of inquiry that recommended the matter proceed to a vote.
It is the first time in Guatemalan history that a sitting, elected president has been stripped of immunity from prosecution bestowed by his office.
According to prosecutors, President Otto Perez Molina is at the top level in the hierarchy of a criminal network that defrauded the state of an estimated $120 million in customs revenue. Former Vice President Roxana Baldetti, who resigned in May, and other high level officials are currently under arrest in connection with the same case.
Guatemalans gathered outside the Congress building in downtown Guatemala City erupted in cheers upon hearing the results of the vote.
Massive protests have been held around the country during the past four months, demanding justice in the corruption cases, and the president’s resignation.
The street outside Congress was the scene of a tense situation earlier in the day as pro and anti-Perez Molina demonstrators held dueling rallies. Police and protesters formed human chains to clear a path for legislators to access the entrance.
Following Congress’ historic decision, the case file will be referred back to the Supreme Court, which will transfer the case to the court in charge of the corruption scandal proceedings against officials and others. At that point, the Office of the Public Prosecutor could possibly issue a warrant for the president’s arrest.
Guatemala’s general elections are scheduled for Sept. 6.Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Eylül 2015, 09:27