Hundreds protest ouster of Guatemalan anti-graft crusader


FILE PHOTO: Juan Francisco Sandoval, who was removed by Guatemala's Attorney General as head of the Special Prosecutor's Office Against Impunity (FECI), arrives for a news conference in Guatemala City, Guatemala July 23, 2021. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria/File Photo

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) -Hundreds of Guatemalans protested outside the presidential palace on Saturday against the ouster of anti-graft fighter Juan Francisco Sandoval, who fled the country overnight after being stripped of his post in a move that sparked a global outcry.

Sandoval, who had led the Guatemalan Special Prosecutor's Office Against Impunity (FECI) until Friday, fled to the Salvadoran border in the wee hours of Saturday, according to the country's human rights ombudsman Jordan Rodas.

"The decision was made to safeguard his life," Rodas told Reuters.

Guatemala's Attorney General Maria Porras removed Sandoval from his post on Friday as the head of FECI, which was originally created to tackle investigations spearheaded by the U.N.-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) but was ousted from the country in 2019.

In a press conference hours before his departure, Sandoval said he would challenge his "illegal dismissal." He accused the attorney general of asking his agency to seek her opinion on any case that involved the government.

"I am the latest in a string of prosecutors who have suffered the consequences for seeking truth and justice," he said.

In April, the Guatemalan Congress refused to appoint another high-profile anti-corruption crusader, Magistrate Gloria Porras, to the nation's highest court.

The Guatemalan government said in a statement on Saturday that it "categorically rejects Juan Francisco Sandoval's statements."

Sandoval's dismissal underscores the challenges U.S. President Joe Biden's government faces in pursuing its anti-graft push in Central America, where it says corruption and impunity are drivers of migration.

"Guatemala's AG fired corruption prosecutor Sandoval for being too effective against organized crime and its links to politicians....USG (U.S. government), your move," wrote former U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala, Stephen McFarland, on Twitter.

Attorney General Porras held a previously scheduled meeting with representatives of 13 donor countries and organizations on Saturday, her spokesman told Reuters. It was not known whether Sandoval's firing was discussed at the gathering.

Guatemala's most powerful campesino groups have called for a general strike on Monday.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu in Guatemala CityWriting by Laura GottesdienerEditing by Matthew Lewis, Diane Craft and Sonya Hepinstall)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights
   

Next In World

Kin of Philippines 'drug war victims' hope for justice as ICC approves probe
Japan PM candidates differ on same-sex, women rights issues
Woman in New Zealand charged with murdering her children after arriving from South Africa
Venezuelan leader Maduro lands in Mexico ahead of Latin American leaders' summit
Algeria's former President Bouteflika dies at 84
Iran's fuel shipments violate Lebanon's sovereignty -PM
Guinea junta says it will not bow to pressure to let president leave
U.S. regrets France's decision to recall ambassador -White House official
Britain acted in opportunistic manner over U.S.-Australia deal -French source
France recalls envoys in U.S, Australia over submarine deal - statement

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers