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  • Supporters of Ivan Velasquez, the head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, protest  in Guatemala City, August 24, 2017

    Supporters of Ivan Velasquez, the head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, protest in Guatemala City, August 24, 2017 | Photo: Reuters

The announcement comes as Morales met the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York.

Guatemala's attorney general and a U.N-backed anti-graft body are seeking to investigate President Jimmy Morales in a probe into suspected illicit campaign financing.

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At a news conference, Ivan Velasquez, the head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, CICIG, said there was evidence that Morales broke laws when he was the head of his political party and prosecutors had filed a motion to investigate the him.

"In order to advance the investigation, it's necessary to remove his immunity," Velasquez told reporters in Guatemala City.

24 hours earlier, he  unveiled a probe into all political parties over alleged wrongdoing related to financing for the 2015 election campaign.

To remove Morales's immunity, prosecutors need the go-ahead from both the Supreme Court and a two-thirds majority in Congress. He could then be formally investigated and charged.

In a statement, the president's office said, "The President of the Republic has been and is respectful of the law and due process, and thus is confident in the objectivity of justice."

Morales took office in 2016, winning the election on an anti-corruption ticket after the CICIG helped to bring down his predecessor over a multi-million-dollar corruption scandal.

Earlier this week, two government officials told Reuters that Morales would ask U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to replace Velasquez, who is already investigating a graft case that involves the president's elder brother Sammy Morales and Jose Manuel Morales, one the president's sons.

"He better have some really valid reasons ... to seek my removal from the post," said Velasquez, adding he would not resign.

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Morales met Guterres in New York on Friday afternoon. The secretary-general reiterated his backing for Velasquez and the CICIG's work at the meeting, with Guterres citing "the Organisation’s continuing support to the mandate of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala," the United Nations said in a statement.

The president's office, in its statement, said it was worried about "manipulation" of information about the visit. It said Morales told Guterres it was important the CICIG stick to its original mandate.

Guatemala's foreign minister, Carlos Morales, who is not related to the president, told Reuters that there had been no request to remove Velasquez from office.

The CICIG was created in 2007 to help the nation's criminal justice system fight organized crime, corruption and impunity more effectively.

Guatemala's Attorney General Thelma Aldana is investigating the suspected illegal campaign funding with the CICIG.

Aldana said on Tuesday that she would resign if the president ousted Velasquez, whose tenure is scheduled is due to expire in 2019.

“In our joint work together against corruption and impunity, AG-CICIG have contributed to building a better country. Without independence, there is no rule of law,” Aldana said in a Facebook post.

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