Guatemalan "high risk court" judges say they are being persecuted, harassed

FILE PHOTO: Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt (R) sits during a hearing of his trial, in the Supreme Court of Justice in Guatemala City February 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemalan judges who as members of the country's "high risk courts" have jailed senior officials such as former President Efrain Rios Montt said on Monday they are being persecuted and harassed by unidentified armed individuals.

Judges Yassmin Barrios, Miguel Galvez, Erika Aifan and Pablo Xitumul submitted a formal complaint to the public prosecutor's office. Xitumul, who presided over a court that sentenced four soldiers in 2018 over forced disappearances, said they were under "psychological pressure" to drop cases and were under increased surveillance.

All four are judges on Guatemala's high risk courts, which were created after the U.N.-backed anti-corruption commission CICIG pushed reforms to investigate organized crime and corruption. CICIG itself was dissolved in 2019 after President Alejandro Giammattei did not renew its mandate.

The public prosecutor's office, headed by Attorney General Maria Consuelo Porras, told Reuters it was investigating the allegations. It said it always acts with "impartiality, objectivity and legality."

(Reporting by Bill Barreto; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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