Guatemala to extend charges to arrested veteran journalist’s lawyers

Guatemala City, Aug 3 (EFE).- Guatemala’s Public Prosecutor’s Office seeks to charge the lawyers of renowned journalist José Rubén Zamora Marroquín, who was arrested last week in a raid and who on Wednesday accused President Alejandro Giammattei of staging the case against him.

The possible charges of the Public Prosecutor’s Office against Zamora Marroquín’s defence team forced the journalist to request the rescheduling of the hearing of his first statement on Wednesday to decide whether he will continue with his lawyers.

Zamora Marroquín, the director of the newspaper El Periódico, also accused the attorney general and head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Consuelo Porras, of planning the charges against him with Giammattei and others.

“This is a montage designed, supported and executed by the president, the attorney general and other people,” Marroquín told reporters at the Guatemalan judiciary’s court complex.

“It is a political persecution,” added the 65-year-old award-winning journalist.

Articles of Zamora Marroquín and El Periódico in the last decade detailed hundreds of acts of corruption in the governments of Otto Pérez Molina and his vice president Roxana Baldetti (2012-2015), Jimmy Morales (2016-2020) and Giammattei.

Zamora “is one of the main critics of the government of Alejandro Giammattei, and his arrest took place five days after strong complaints against several officials and former officials for corruption in a Sunday section of the morning paper,” El Periodico said in a statement.

On Tuesday, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said he was “concerned” about the journalist’s arrest, as well as about the legal action that the country’s government has taken against its own justice officials.

Zamora Marroquín was to provide his first statement on Wednesday but, after the accusations against his lawyers, he will decide in the coming days who will be in charge of his defense.

The charges of the Prosecutor’s Office against his lawyers, Mario Castañeda and Romeo Montoya, would supposedly be for obstruction of justice.

The hearing next Monday will start at 9 am local time (15:00 GMT) and Zamora Marroquín will remain detained in the prison of the Mariscal Zavala military barracks, west of Guatemala City.

The journalist was arrested last Friday at his residence on charges of money laundering, intent to launder money, blackmail and influence peddling. EFE


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