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Guatemalan prosecutors request that President-elect Bernardo Arévalo be stripped of immunity

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GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemala’s Legal professional Common’s workplace formally requested Friday that President-elect Bernardo Arévalo and others be stripped of their immunity so it may possibly examine them for allegedly encouraging the coed occupation of the nation’s solely public college.

Cultural Heritage prosecutor Ángel Saúl Sánchez had introduced on Thursday that he deliberate to make the request whereas federal brokers executed search warrants and sought to arrest dozens of members of Arévalo’s Seed Motion occasion.

That announcement drew waves of criticism from inside and out of doors Guatemala.

Sánchez formally requested that immunity be lifted for Arévalo, Vice President-elect Karin Herrera, three lawmakers and a deputy-elect from the Seed Motion. Stripping them of immunity permits prosecutors to pursue a proper investigation.

Among the many crimes prosecutors plan to pursue in opposition to Arévalo and others within the new case are exploitation of cultural property, affect peddling and unlawful affiliation.

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In April 2022, college students took over San Carlos College, Guatemala’s solely public college, following what they thought-about the fraudulent election of the varsity’s new rector Walter Mazariegos. They mentioned that in the course of the vote by college students, college and directors, Mazariegos solely allowed those that would vote for him to forged their ballots.

The U.S. State Division sanctioned Mazariegos for suffocating democratic processes and taking the place of rector after what it known as a fraudulent course of.

The scholars didn’t stand down till June of this yr.

Earlier this yr, when Arévalo allegedly posted phrases of encouragement and assist to the protesting college students on social media, he was not even within the dialog within the race for Guatemala’s presidency.

Thursday’s announcement was condemned by the U.S. authorities, the United Nations secretary basic, the Group of American States and different worldwide observers.

The Legal professional Common’s workplace’s request was made to Guatemala’s judiciary, but it surely was unclear the place it could be channeled. Sometimes the Supreme Court docket of Justice guidelines on requests to strip elected officers of immunity.

However Constitutional lawyer Alejandro Balsells mentioned it’s unclear on this case as a result of there didn’t look like precedent in Guatemala for a president-elect.

“It’s a singular state of affairs, it hasn’t occurred earlier than. The regulation doesn’t say who would hear (the request),” Balsells mentioned. “Moreover, since he’s a (congressman) and president-elect, it stays to be seen whether or not he has a proper to 2 hearings, as a result of he has double immunity.”

It was solely the newest authorized salvo in opposition to Arévalo, an anti-corruption crusader who shocked the nation by profitable the presidential election in August. Observers say it’s an try and maintain Arévalo from taking energy in January and thereby defend Guatemala’s corrupt political and financial elite.

Legal professional Common Consuelo Porras and outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei have denied political motivations.

Since Arévalo gained a spot within the August runoff, prosecutors have been pursuing his occasion on accusations of wrongdoing within the gathering of the mandatory signatures to register years earlier. A choose suspended the occasion at prosecutors’ request.

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