Guatemala City, Aug 9 (EFE).- A judge here ruled Tuesday that Guatemalan prosecutors had sufficient evidence to prosecute respected journalist Jose Ruben Zamora Marroquin, one of the most prominent critics of President Alejandro Giammattei.
Fredy Orellana authorized the prosecution to move forward with charges of blackmail, money laundering and influence-peddling.
Zamora, founder and editor of El Periodico newspaper, was taken into custody July 29 after police spent nearly eight hours searching his residence in Guatemala City.
Over the past decade, El Periodico has uncovered instances of corruption in three different presidential administrations. The editor’s arrest came five days after the daily published a broadside against Giammattei and his cronies.
Fourteen months after accepting from King Felipe VI a King of Spain International Journalism Prize on behalf of El Periodico, the 66-year-old Zamora finds himself under indictment.
Prosecutor Cinthia Monterroso told the court that Zamora was arrested based on a criminal complaint filed on July 22 by Ronald Garcia Navarijo, a former banker who claimed that the editor sought his help in laundering $38,000.
In his response, defense attorney Christian Ulate said that the prosecution had no evidence other than the word of Garcia Navarijo, while Zamora said that he obtained the $38,000 as a loan to cover business expenses.
“I have not seen a single piece of evidence which says that that money is the proceeds of blackmail. What blackmail? At what moment? When? Where? How?,” Ulate said.
Zamora, who has survived an assassination attempt and a kidnapping, said publicly last year that Giammattei and Attorney General Consuelo Porras would seek to frame him for some crime as retaliation for El Periodico’s scrutiny of the government.