• Three magistrates of Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal fled the country Friday, shortly after lawmakers stripped four of them of legal immunity.
  • The move opens the tribunal’s magistrates to prosecution.
  • The whereabouts of the magistrates in question are unknown

Three magistrates of Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal left the country early Friday, hours after the Congress opened them up to prosecution by stripping them of their immunity as the losing side in the presidential election continued its efforts to interfere with the results.

A spokesperson for Guatemala’s immigration agency confirmed Friday that the jurists had left Guatemala that day after the Congress voted near midnight Thursday to lift the immunity of four of the court’s five magistrates. The agency did not say where the magistrates had traveled to. None of the magistrates have commented.

Blanca Alfaro, president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, said Friday the four magistrates would continue in their positions. A spokesman for the tribunal later confirmed that all four had requested some sort of leave to which they were entitled.

HONDURAN OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER FLEES ARREST AFTER BEING STOPPED IN AIRPORT BEFORE TRAVELING TO US

To lose their positions, Alfaro said a judge would have to assign them pre-trial detention or they would have to lose at trial. She said the magistrates had always followed the law and only validated the electoral process, rather than collecting the votes.

The magistrates certified the election result but came under pressure from allegations by two attorneys tied to a far-right candidate who did not advance to the runoff round of the presidential election.

The attorneys complained that the tribunal overpaid for software purchased to carry out and publish rapid initial vote tallies. The Attorney General’s Office had previously said that its preliminary investigation suggested there had been less expensive options available.

In stripping the magistrates of their immunity, the lawmakers were following the recommendation of a special committee set up to investigate the allegations.

The Tribunal

The president of the Guatemalan Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Irma Palencia (4-R) and other judges, offer a press conference to announce the official results of the run-off presidential election, in Guatemala City on August 28, 2023. (JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

International observers from the Organization of American States and European Union declared the election free and fair. President-elect Bernardo Arévalo of the progressive Seed Movement party was the surprise winner.

Arévalo had not been polling among the top candidates headed into the first round of voting in June, but secured the second spot in the runoff with his promise to crack down on Guatemala’s endemic corruption. In the final vote in August, he won by a wide margin over former first lady Sandra Torres.

The son of a former president, Arévalo still managed to position himself as an outsider. As an academic who had worked for years in conflict resolution, he was untainted by the corruption that has pervaded Guatemalan politics in recent years and offered a promise of change.

But once he won a place in the runoff, Guatemala’s justice system swung into action with multiple investigations against his party and its leadership. Prosecutors got a judge to suspend the party, alleging that there was illegality in the way it gathered signatures to register as a party years earlier.

Earlier this month, authorities arrested a number of Seed Movement members and prosecutors have requested that Arévalo and his vice president-elect also lose their immunity for allegedly making supportive comments on social media about the takeover of a public university last year.

Attorney General Consuelo Porras, who has been sanctioned by the U.S. government, has faced months of protests and calls for her resignation, as well as international condemnation for her office’s interference. Porras, as well as outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei, have denied any intent to meddle in the election results.

The U.S. government stepped up its pressure on Giammattei’s administration Friday, sanctioning one of the president’s closest collaborators for alleged corruption. The U.S. Treasury said in a statement that Luis Miguel Martínez Morales “engaged in widespread bribery schemes, including schemes related to government contracts.”

GUATEMALAN CABINET MINISTER RESIGNS FOLLOWING CRITICISM OVER NOT FORCEFULLY COMBATTING COUNTRY’S PROTESTORS

The Biden administration has pointed to Guatemala’s corruption as a root cause of migration. The Treasury statement said Martínez had previously led the since disbanded Government Center that had made him one of the most powerful un-elected figures in the country. He allegedly used his power and proximity to Giammattei to influence contracts to the benefit of himself and close associates, the statement said.

Arévalo is scheduled to take office Jan. 14.

But the intent among Guatemala’s establishment, which would potentially have the most to fear from an Arévalo administration serious about taking on corruption, appears clear.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

In testimony to the special committee investigating the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Karen Fisher, one of the attorneys who brought the complaint, urged them to move quickly. “Time is short because Jan. 14 is coming up,” she said.

source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Kashmir's main city to discuss development projects

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his first official visit to Kashmir’s…

Magnitude 5.1 earthquake rattles Barbados

close Video Fox News Flash top headlines for November 28 Fox News…

Emirati-designated COP28 leader forcefully denies report UAE wanted to seek oil deals in summit

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Emirati president-designate for the upcoming…

US Navy responds to distress call after Israeli-owned tanker seized off coast of Yemen

A U.S. Navy vessel responded to a distress call Sunday from an…