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Otto Pérez Molina: Guatemalan Ex-leader Pleads Guilty to Corruption

A court in Guatemala has sentenced former president Otto Pérez Molina to eight years in jail.

Pérez Molina, who was forced from office in 2015 by anti-corruption protests, pleaded guilty to money laundering, fraud and corruption.

Prosecutors say he had received millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for awarding more than 70 contracts to various companies.

The 72-year-old has been in jail since his arrest the day after he resigned.

He and his vice-president, Roxana Baldetti, had already been found guilty last year of running a bribery scheme at the Guatemalan customs authorities.

Both corruption cases were uncovered with the help of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a body created by the United Nations in agreement with Guatemala to stamp out corruption in the Central American nation.

CICIG investigated allegations of corruption at the highest levels.

The UN-backed body was kicked out of Guatemala in 2019 by Pérez Molina’s successor in office, Jimmy Morales, when it started to investigate Mr Morales over alleged funding irregularities during his election campaign.

The expulsion of CICIG drew heavy criticism from anti-corruption groups in Guatemala as well as those in the United States and the European Union.

The current administration of President Alejandro Giammattei has also been accused of obstructing corruption investigations.

Last year, the US state department accused Guatemala’s Attorney General Consuelo Porras of obstructing investigations “to protect her political allies and gain undue political favour” after she ordered the arrest of a number of anti-corruption prosecutors.

Dozens of Guatemalan prosecutors and judges have since fled the country for fear of arrest.

Guatemalans told pollsters that widespread corruption was one of their main concerns which prompted them to vote for a political outsider who campaigned on a promise to root out graft.

Source : bbc