Crime & Justice

Jailed Guatemalan corruption fighter proclaims his innocence

By Emiliano Castro Saenz

Guatemala City, May 27 (EFE).- Former government prosecutor and tax agency director Juan Francisco Solorzano Foppa, a prominent opponent of Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, said here Thursday that his arrest last week was politically motivated.

Solorzano, who was part of the corruption probe that led to the 2015 ouster and subsequent criminal conviction of then-President Otto Perez Molina, was brought from a military stockade to the courthouse in Guatemala City for a preliminary hearing had yet to get under way by late afternoon.

The attorney and 11 other people are accused of falsifying documents when they sought to register a new political party last year.

Solorzano told Efe that he was “absolutely innocent” of the charges and described the investigation as a farce.

“We know that this is an instance of criminalization against people who have worked against corruption and who also want a change in the country and want to participate actively in politics in Guatemala,” he said.

He pointed out that he has already spent nearly two years fighting a prosecution for gender violence based on a social media post dating from his 2016-2018 tenure as head of the tax agency.

In the offending post, Solorzano informed a politically connected media personality that her bank accounts had been frozen for non-payment of taxes.

Solorzano is the grandson of Alaide Foppa, a poet and women’s rights activist who disappeared after being kidnapped by the military in 1980 against the backdrop of Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war, which left more than 200,000 people dead, most of them indigenous peasants.

His own detention on May 19 seemed more akin to an abduction than a lawful arrest.

Solorzano was driving on an avenue on Guatemala City’s south side when unmarked vehicles with no license plates blocked his path and forced him out of his car before taking him into custody without explanation.

After more than a decade working in the Attorney General’s Office, Solorzano was appointed head of the tax agency, SAT, in 2016 and set a new record for collection in his first year.

Solorzano aggressively pursued several of the country’s largest corporations for tax fraud and levied a $100 million fine on steelmaker Aceros de Guatemala. EFE


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