It’s a busy week for the justice system in Guatemala, where former President Otto Perez Molina and former Vice President Roxana Baldetti, who both resigned over rampant government fraud last year, began to face trial Monday in the country’s high-profile corruption scandal known as La Linea.
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Perez Molina, Baldetti, and 30 other people, including several high-level officials, are implicated in the massive fraud network that operated a bribery scheme in the country’s tax authority with the former president and vice president as key ringleaders.
Thousands of wiretap conversations have been gathered as evidence in the case. The trial is expected to last about a month, local media reported.
Monday’s hearing was scheduled to last 10 hours, but was suspended over an attorney general’s office appeal. It was not immediately clear when the trial will reconvene.
Perez Molina and Baldetti have been held in remand while the investigation continues.
Baldetti initially refused to leave the women’s prison where she is being held for Monday’s trial over health problems, but authorities demanded she show up. The former vice president resigned on May 8 amid popular pressure after embezzlement scandals began to come to light.
Perez Molina, on the other hand, arrived to the court on Monday flanked by heavy security with a printed booklet of his defense. He has denied allegations of criminal activity, claiming that his detention is illegal.
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The former president resigned on Sep. 2 just weeks before the country’s presidential election, while prosecutors aimed to strip him of his presidential immunity. He was Guatemala’s first head of state to stand accused while still in his post as president.
Another corruption case, a health care scandal involving US$14.5 million in medical service contract irregularities in the country’s Social Security Institute implicating Guatemalan businessman Gustavo Alejo, will also continue a trial this week.
Meanwhile, the genocide trial for former dictator Efrain Rios Montt could also approach its final stages this week, Guatemala’s Soy 502 reported. The former despot carried out the bloodiest period of Guatemala’s over three-decade civil war.
Guatemala saw months of protests last year against against high-level scandals that called for Perez Molina’s resignation and demanded an end to government fraud and justice for corrupt officials.