{"code":"26216","sect":"Central America","sect_slug":"central-america","hits":"574","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202206\/centroamerica\/26216","link_edit":"","name":"New Targets of Attorney General\u2019s Lawfare against Guatemalan Justice","slug":"new-targets-of-attorney-general-rsquo-s-lawfare-against-guatemalan-justice","info":"Guatemala, in Brief: The persecution of independent judges and prosecutors presses onward with the order to trial of former top state attorney Virginia Laparra. The shady Foundation against Terrorism, lead architect of the legal attacks that have already pushed two-dozen anti-corruption operators into exile, has named among its next targets the human rights ombudsman and three of the country\u2019s most influential judges. Subscribe to our newsletter","mtag":"Newsletter","noun":{"html":"El Faro English","data":{"el-faro-english":{"sort":"","slug":"el-faro-english","path":"el_faro_english","name":"El Faro English","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"574","pict":{"cms-image-000037586-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"37586","name":"cms-image-000037586.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037586.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037586.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000037586-jpg","text":"<p>Former FECI chief Juan Francisco Sandoval with Attorney General Consuelo Porras in a 2019 press conference, two years before he abandoned Guatemala for exile. At the time of his dismissal in July 2021, his office was investigating evidence of corruption including informatino that Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei had negotiated multimillion-dollar bribes from construction firms to finance his 2019 electoral campaign. Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EFormer FECI chief Juan Francisco Sandoval with Attorney General Consuelo Porras in a 2019 press conference, two years before he abandoned Guatemala for exile. At the time of his dismissal in July 2021, his office was investigating evidence of corruption including informatino that Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei had negotiated multimillion-dollar bribes from construction firms to finance his 2019 electoral campaign. Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":37586,"date":{"live":"2022\/06\/07"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2022","data_post_dateLive_MM":"06","data_post_dateLive_DD":"07","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn Tuesday night a Guatemalan judge ordered the trial of Virginia Laparra, the former number-two attorney in the Special Prosecutor\u2019s Office against Impunity (FECI), accused of false testimony and abuse of authority for reporting a judge five years ago on suspicions that he \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.agenciaocote.com\/blog\/2022\/05\/31\/no-ver-la-luz-el-caso-de-virginia-laparra\/\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eleaked sealed case information\u003C\/span\u003E to a colleague\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe judge received administrative sanctions but retaliated against Laparra by co-filing a criminal complaint with the Foundation against Terrorism (FCT), a far-right advocacy group. After staying dormant for five years, the complaint was reactivated by Attorney General Consuelo Porras last February, and Laparra was immediately arrested amid an \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202109\/centroamerica\/0000025759-who-controls-justice-in-central-america\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eoffensive against former FECI employees\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E and independent judges. Legal observers have called the charges against her \u201c\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.fidh.org\/es\/region\/americas\/guatemala\/guatemala-detencion-arbitraria-de-la-fiscal-contra-la-impunidad\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Espurious\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E\u201d and argued they are \u003Cstrong\u003Edesigned to make an example of her\u003C\/strong\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe case underscores that the judicial persecution in Guatemala is far from over as Attorney General Consuelo Porras begins her second term with President Giammattei\u2019s blessing. Two-dozen independent prosecutors and judges facing unfounded charges have fled the country in the past year alone under threat of incarceration from her office.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ELaparra, who worked for six years under now-exiled FECI chief \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202107\/centroamerica\/25626\/Interview-with-a-Former-Prosecutor-en-Route-to-Exile-%E2%80%9CI-can-now-say-that-everything-Porras-has-done-is-shady%E2%80%9D.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003EJuan Francisco Sandoval\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E, has spent over three months in conditions \u201cbordering on torture,\u201d per a \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/apnews.com\/article\/noticias-9e390a84d47210048d33dc9e0a433342\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Epsych evaluation\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E made public by the Associated Press. Her attorneys say her life is at risk as long as she remains in Mariscal Zavala, a military prison for the powerful where convicted criminals who she prosecuted are serving time.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EFCT lawyer Ra\u00fal Falla Ovalle \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/RaulFalla31\/status\/1533965596332896258?s=20&t=Mk1eDwrrY5LAtlpkVMPzog\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Etweeted\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E on Monday that the foundation would oppose release on bail because of the \u201crisk of escape,\u201d adding an open threat: \u201cCivil death to the ex-FECI.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=3000&ImageHeight=2000&ImageId=37586\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Former FECI chief Juan Francisco Sandoval with Attorney General Consuelo Porras in a 2019 press conference, two years before he abandoned Guatemala for exile. At the time of his dismissal in July 2021, his office was investigating evidence of corruption including informatino that Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei had negotiated multimillion-dollar bribes from construction firms to finance his 2019 electoral campaign. Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EFormer FECI chief Juan Francisco Sandoval with Attorney General Consuelo Porras in a 2019 press conference, two years before he abandoned Guatemala for exile. At the time of his dismissal in July 2021, his office was investigating evidence of corruption including informatino that Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei had negotiated multimillion-dollar bribes from construction firms to finance his 2019 electoral campaign. Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u003Cdiv class=\"photographer text_italic rule--ss_l tint-text--idle\"\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe phrase is a response to former CICIG commissioner Iv\u00e1n Velasquez\u2019s \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/elcomercio.pe\/mundo\/onu\/onu-sociedad-debe-decretar-muerte-civil-corrupto-432645-noticia\/\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003E2017 call\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E on Latin American societies to \u201cdecree the civil death of the corrupt.\u201d In recent years FCT has become a hatchet man in the persecution of Guatemalan judges, prosecutors, journalists, and human rights defenders, in an all-out offensive against anti-corruption advocates.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\"They use social media to discredit and delegitimize you socially, and \u003Cstrong\u003Ekill you civilly through malicious litigation\u003C\/strong\u003E,\u201d human rights activist Helen Mack \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202107\/centroamerica\/25605\/%E2%80%9CIt%E2%80%99s-Hard-to-Find-an-Honest-Judge-in-Guatemala-Now%E2%80%9D.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Etold El Faro last year\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"font-size: medium;\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003E\u201cExiled or Behind Bars\u201d\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe FCT was a key backer of Attorney General Porras\u2019 May reelection, filing a last-minute motion before the Constitutional Court to pressure the appointment committee into submitting her name to President Giammattei as a finalist despite U.S. sanctions and suspension of cooperation with her office. Her reappointment \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202206\/centroamerica\/26206\/Biden%E2%80%99s-Central-America-Problem-on-Display-at-LA-Summit.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eflared preexisting diplomatic tensions with the United States\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E, drawing new sanctions against her family and ending in Giammattei\u2019s refusal to attend the Americas Summit this week.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ELike other FCT attorneys, Falla is sanctioned in the U.S. \u2018Engel List\u2019 for \u201cattempting to delay or obstruct criminal proceedings against former military officials who had committed acts of violence, harassment, or intimidation against governmental and nongovernmental corruption investigators.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe FCT are fervent deniers of the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.nytimes.com\/1999\/02\/26\/world\/guatemalan-army-waged-genocide-new-report-finds.html\"\u003EGuatemalan genocide\u003C\/a\u003E, perpetrated by the Guatemalan military against five Mayan peoples in the early 1980s, according to the Historical Clarification Commission (CEH). The foundation also opposes accountability for other decades-old crimes now being aired in court, like in the ongoing trial of nine retired police and military officials for the \u003Cstrong\u003Eillegal detention, torture, killing, and forced disappearance\u003C\/strong\u003E of more than 195 people between 1983 and 1985.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe victims were named in a secret hitlist known as the \u2018\u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202205\/centroamerica\/26172\/Guatemalan-Judge-under-Threat-after-Ordering-Trial-in-1980s-%E2%80%9CDeath-Squad-Dossier%E2%80%9D-Case.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003EDeath Squad Dossier\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E.\u2019\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe foundation is not shy about naming its targets. In mid-April Falla mentioned Laparra in a \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/RaulFalla31\/status\/1515838776056205312?s=20&t=8S16ioKwRIM34SA64mmBNg\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Elist\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E posted on social media that included three judges on Guatemala\u2019s High-Risk Tribunals: Pablo Xitumul and Yassm\u00edn Barrios, who famously convicted ex-dictator Efra\u00edn R\u00edos Montt in 2013 of ordering the genocide; and Miguel \u00c1ngel G\u00e1lvez, who is now overseeing the trial for the Death Squad Dossier.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe list also includes the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Todd Robinson, head of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and former ambassador to Guatemala from 2014 to 2017.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAlso present at Laparra\u2019s hearing was Guatemala's Human Rights Ombudsman Jord\u00e1n Rodas, who in recent months launched a bid to \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202204\/centroamerica\/26115\/%E2%80%9CLa-Universidad-de-San-Carlos-es-hoy-un-reflejo-de-todo-lo-malo-de-Guatemala%E2%80%9D.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Ehead the public San Carlos University\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E under the promise of wresting the politically powerful institution from the control of corrupt \"mafias.\" His candidacy was thwarted by election fraud three weeks ago.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EHe leaves office in just over two months, meaning that any criminal charges against him would no longer require that Congress revoke his immunity.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn Tuesday, minutes before Laparra\u2019s hearing, Falla turned his attention to Rodas and called out: \u201cWe\u2019ll see that you\u2019re exiled or behind bars.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThanks for reading. Consider \u003Cstrong\u003Efunding independent journalism in Central America\u003C\/strong\u003E, in its most critical hour, at\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/elfaro.us19.list-manage.com\/track\/click?u=a822abdb775cca5db840e11e5&id=10085f0b79&e=3e101df639\"\u003E \u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Esupport.elfaro.net\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E"}