UN Anti-Graft Body in Guatemala Says Visas Denied, Revoked
By SONIA PEREZ D. and SONNY FIGUEROA
on "APnews" on Oct 16 2018
ESQUIPULAS, GUATEMALA —
A U.N. commission investigating corruption in Guatemala said Tuesday that President Jimmy Morales' government has denied or revoked visas for about a dozen of its personnel including staffers probing the president, his relatives and the ruling party.
The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala said in a statement that the Foreign Ministry notified it Monday that three current visas were withdrawn, eight were denied for officials and two were denied for family members.
Among those affected is Colombian lawyer Luis Fernando Orozco, who is investigating Morales over purported illegal campaign financing during the 2015 election.
Another is Cesar Rincon, also a Colombian lawyer, and the commission's representative on a case against Morales' son and brother over alleged falsification of documents to obtain government funds.
Rincon is also the lead investigator in the investigation against former President Otto Perez Molina, who was forced to resign in 2015 and is behind bars awaiting trial.
The commission known as CICIG for its initials in Spanish said it was evaluating the situation.
There was no immediate public comment from the government.
Morales, who campaigned on the slogan “neither corrupt nor a thief,” has repeatedly denied involvement in any corruption.
However, critics see his moves to hamstring CICIG as protecting his own interests and those close to him.
Morales recently declined to give the commission another two-year mandate, giving it until the end of its current term next September to wrap up its work and leave.
He has also refused to let CICIG chief Ivan Velasquez, a Colombian national, return to the country from a work trip to the United States, defying multiple court orders in the process.
Working hand-in-hand with Guatemalan prosecutors, the commission has brought corruption cases against dozens of powerful politicians, public officials and businesspeople.
The visa denials also affect Yilen Osorio, who heads up an investigation of alleged bribery implicating the current vice president of congress and others; and Vicenzo
Caruso, an Italian investigator who last month pressed the case before congress to lift the immunity from prosecution that Morales enjoys as sitting president.
CICIG had sought visa renewals for 42 of its personnel nearly two months ago, and approvals were given for staffers not involved in high-profile cases.