{"code":"26331","sect":"Central America","sect_slug":"central-america","hits":"1443","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202208\/centroamerica\/26331","link_edit":"","name":"The Case against Journalist Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora Was Built in 72 Hours","slug":"the-case-against-journalist-jose-ruben-zamora-was-built-in-72-hours","info":"The defense argues that the state tampered with the bills presented as primary evidence to accuse Zamora of money laundering and blackmail. The testimony and audio recordings presented thus far in court fall short of proving criminal behavior.","mtag":"Corruption","noun":{"html":"Julie L\u00f3pez","data":{"julie-lopez":{"sort":"","slug":"julie-lopez","path":"julie_lopez","name":"Julie L\u00f3pez","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"1443","pict":{"cms-image-000037895-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"37895","name":"cms-image-000037895.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037895.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037895.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000037895-jpg","text":"<p>El periodista guatemalteco Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora, presidente del diario elPeri\u00f3dico, luego de una audiencia en el Palacio de Justicia de Ciudad de Guatemala. Foto de El Faro: Carlos Alonso\/AFP<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EEl periodista guatemalteco Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora, presidente del diario elPeri\u00f3dico, luego de una audiencia en el Palacio de Justicia de Ciudad de Guatemala. Foto de El Faro: Carlos Alonso\/AFP\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000037896-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"37896","name":"cms-image-000037896.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037896.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037896.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000037896-jpg","text":"<p>Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora, president of newspaper elPeri\u00f3dico, arrives at a hearing in the Palace of Justice in Guatemala City. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/AFP<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EJos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora, president of newspaper elPeri\u00f3dico, arrives at a hearing in the Palace of Justice in Guatemala City. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/AFP\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000037897-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"37897","name":"cms-image-000037897.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037897.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037897.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000037897-jpg","text":"<p>Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora habla con periodistas despu\u00e9s de una audiencia en el Palacio de Justicia de la Ciudad de Guatemala. 30 de noviembre de 2022.\u00a0Foto de El Faro: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/ AFP.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EJos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora habla con periodistas despu\u00e9s de una audiencia en el Palacio de Justicia de la Ciudad de Guatemala. 30 de noviembre de 2022.\u00a0Foto de El Faro: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/ AFP.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000037898-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"37898","name":"cms-image-000037898.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037898.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037898.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000037898-jpg","text":"<p>FECI prosecutor Cynthia Monterroso handles money presented as evidence in the trial against Guatemalan journalist Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/AFP<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EFECI prosecutor Cynthia Monterroso handles money presented as evidence in the trial against Guatemalan journalist Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/AFP\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":37895,"date":{"live":"2022\/08\/17"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2022","data_post_dateLive_MM":"08","data_post_dateLive_DD":"17","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202208\/centroamerica\/26325\/El-dudoso-caso-contra-Jos%C3%A9-Rub%C3%A9n-Zamora-se-arm%C3%B3-en-72-horas.htm\"\u003E\u003Cem\u003ELeer en espa\u00f1ol\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe president and director of Guatemalan newspaper elPeri\u00f3dico, Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora Marroqu\u00edn, and assistant attorney Samari Carolina G\u00f3mez D\u00edaz will spend at least three months in pre-trial detention on the basis of a single testimony and supposed evidence that Rafael Curruchiche, the head of the Special Prosecutor\u2019s Office against Impunity (FECI), told El Faro were collected in just 72 hours between July 26 and 29.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe FECI chief told El Faro that he met key witness Ronald Giovanni Garc\u00eda Navarijo, a former executive of the Workers\u2019 Bank (Bantrab), in person on the first day of evidence collection. Authorities claim that in the three ensuing days they verified the former banker\u2019s word and audio and text messages that he submitted to prepare, in the afternoon on Friday, July 29, to execute a raid of Zamora\u2019s home and the offices of elPeri\u00f3dico, where they detained eight employees for 16 hours and prevented them from contacting anyone.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAt the time of the raids the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office froze the newspaper\u2019s bank accounts, only to release them days later after discovering that they contained the equivalent of just $500. Despite the raid of the workplace and the frozen accounts, Curruchiche has insisted in public statements that Zamora\u2019s detention has to do with \u201chis activity as a businessman, and not with his journalistic work.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn Tuesday, Aug. 9, Judge Freddy Orellana remanded Zamora in custody on charges of money laundering, blackmail, and influence peddling, and for G\u00f3mez on accusations of leaking confidential information. The audio recordings, text messages, and cash presented in court in hearings that Monday and Tuesday were all provided by Garc\u00eda Navarijo. Defense attorneys Christian Ulate and Armando Mendoza argue that the evidence is based solely on the testimony of a man accused since 2016 of money laundering and embezzlement. They also assert that the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office tampered with evidence.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EGarc\u00eda Navarijo filed a criminal complaint against Zamora on July 26. During the pre-trial hearings prosecutors asserted that the plaintiff told the FECI that Zamora blackmailed him into laundering 300,000 quetzales ($40,000) in cash by threatening to publish evidence of the former banker\u2019s criminal ties.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EHe claimed that Zamora \u201cprobably\u201d obtained the money by extorting others and that the journalist obtained the information against him from the former FECI chief Juan Francisco Sandoval, exiled in the United States since July 2021 after Attorney General Consuelo Porras illegally fired him. The same judge now trying Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora, Freddy Orellana, issued one of two arrest warrants for Sandoval.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.prensalibre.com\/guatemala\/justicia\/imputan-cuatro-delitos-al-periodista-jose-ruben-zamora-en-la-audiencia-de-primera-declaracion-y-el-mp-presentan-q300-mil-como-medio-de-prueba-breaking\/\"\u003EProsecutors assert\u003C\/a\u003E that the parties had agreed that Garc\u00eda Navarijo would deposit the funds in the account of one of his businesses and then write a check in the same amount to Aldea Global, the newspaper\u2019s parent company.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn his first hearing on Aug. 8, Zamora acknowledged to the judge that he gave Garc\u00eda Navarijo the amount of money reported in his indictment. In a recess he told the press that he received the cash from \u201ctwo businessmen who wanted to support elPeri\u00f3dico.\u201d Zamora\u2019s attorney, Christian Ulate, told El Faro that the purpose of the triangulation was to protect the identity of the donors, per their wishes, from any kind of retaliation. Zamora says he hopes the two businessmen who gave him the money will come forward to dispel the allegations.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EHe has also told the press that he has known Garc\u00eda Navarijo for almost two decades. \u201cWe never had any issues,\u201d he claims.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe defense argues that the money that prosecutors presented in court could not be reliably attributed to Zamora because, contrary to when they allege he gave the money to Garc\u00eda Navarijo, the stacks of cash were displayed in court without currency bands. The detail could be key to his defense, given that the bands, placed on bills by banks at the time of withdrawal of large sums of cash, would test prosecutors\u2019 assertion that the money was obtained illicitly.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E \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=37898 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"FECI prosecutor Cynthia Monterroso handles money presented as evidence in the trial against Guatemalan journalist Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/AFP\" \/\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\"\u003E FECI prosecutor Cynthia Monterroso handles money presented as evidence in the trial against Guatemalan journalist Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/AFP \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\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cMy client has always held that the money had bands from Banco Industrial because it had been withdrawn from there,\u201d said Ulate. \u201cYou don\u2019t launder money already in the banking system,\u201d he continued. \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/__VaderGT\/status\/1553847888710623233\"\u003EOn July 31\u003C\/a\u003E and Aug. 1, government-aligned social media accounts published a \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/Eriol_Gt\/status\/1556668555520786432\"\u003Ephotograph of the alleged money with bands\u003C\/a\u003E \u2014 information that, if real, would have been illegally leaked from the case file on social media, along with some of the audio files presented by prosecutors in court.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe defense says that joint plaintiff Ra\u00fal Falla \u2014an attorney from the Foundation Against Terrorism (FCT) who is representing Garc\u00eda Navarijo\u2014 saw these bands.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhen prosecutor Cynthia Monterrosa displayed the supposed bills in court on Aug. 8, she removed bandless stacks of bills from envelopes with the seal of the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office, without using gloves. That could complicate the defense attorney\u2019s request that the bills be examined with ultraviolet light to determine whether they were the same that Zamora received from the businessmen.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESources in the banking system told El Faro that another possible method of verifying the money\u2019s origin would be the record kept by Banco Industrial with the serial numbers of bills removed in high quantities.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ETwo Former Presidents\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAt the time Garc\u00eda Navarijo filed the criminal complaint with the FECI he had yet to receive the money from Zamora. The journalist\u2019s driver dropped off the money on July 28, two days after the filing. The driver arrived at 3:30 p.m., the defense asserted, and the FECI carried out its inspection two hours later. By then, the bills\u2019 bands had been removed, per pictures submitted as state evidence.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EGarc\u00eda Navarijo and other Bantrab executives were investigated by the anti-corruption commission CICIG in 2016 \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/elperiodico.com.gt\/lo-mas-importante-de-hoy\/2022\/08\/03\/feci-favorecio-a-ronald-garcia-navarijo-y-le-devolvio-mas-de-q30-millones\/\"\u003E\u2014as elPeri\u00f3dico reported\u2014\u003C\/a\u003E for diverting $3.4 million in bank funds to companies owned by its executives, as well as to the 2011 presidential campaign of Otto P\u00e9rez Molina. Authorities issued an arrest warrant for him in 2016 but he evaded capture until 2018. A year later, after the expulsion of the CICIG, he was released to house arrest and began to collaborate as a state\u2019s witness.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn remarks to the press on Aug. 3, Zamora said that Garc\u00eda Navarijo was worried that the state would change the terms of his cooperation agreement under which he confessed to multiple crimes. The president of elPeri\u00f3dico says that Garc\u00eda Navarijo told prosecutors that he provided money laundering services to \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/PrensaComunitar\/status\/1554957036038881280?s=20&t=4lPl7l5m3ACxgO2MIe4LZg\"\u003ESalvadoran ex-president Mauricio Funes\u003C\/a\u003E (2009 - 2014) and \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.prensalibre.com\/guatemala\/politica\/cuatro-frentes-tocan-a-jimmy-morales\/\"\u003EGuatemalan ex-head of state Jimmy Morales\u003C\/a\u003E (2015 - 2019).\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFormer FECI chief Juan Francisco Sandoval confirmed to El Faro on Aug. 13 that Garc\u00eda Navarijo confessed to laundering money for former public officials. He did not name them, but said that the Attorney General\u2019s Office should have more information.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cYou\u2019ll be surprised at the evidence we have,\u201d Curruchiche told El Faro three days before the first pre-trial hearing. Prosecutors will now have to prove their charges on the basis of what they presented in court to argue for a trial. Curruchiche says prosecutors have corroborated all evidence, including emails, phone calls, and \u201celements of investigation obtained according to the law.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E \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=37896 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora, president of newspaper elPeri\u00f3dico, arrives at a hearing in the Palace of Justice in Guatemala City. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/AFP\" \/\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\"\u003E Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora, president of newspaper elPeri\u00f3dico, arrives at a hearing in the Palace of Justice in Guatemala City. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/AFP \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\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EHe also says that Garc\u00eda Navarijo is not a state collaborator nor a protected witness. \u201cHe asked for a cooperation agreement, and I conferred with the prosecutor [Cynthia Monterroso], to see whether the information he provided was useful and complied with the Organized Delinquency Law, and it didn\u2019t meet the requirements,\u201d said Curruchiche, but he did not rule out the possibility of a future agreement.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe defense holds the opposite: that Garc\u00eda Navarijo is testifying in exchange for his exoneration and that authorities made arrests first to later see what they could prove.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe lead prosecutor working the case, Cynthia Monterroso, has a troubled track record. In 2019, now-exiled judge Erika Aif\u00e1n \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.no-ficcion.com\/project\/cinthia-monterroso-fiscal-acusa-zamora\"\u003Ecalled on the attorney general\u003C\/a\u003E to investigate her for removing and planting courtroom evidence. It was no use; in 2021 Porras even halted an arrest warrant against Monterroso issued by Sandoval. According to digital news site Soy502, Judge Freddy Orellana was the only judge to agree to move forward with the case presented by the FECI and the far-right advocacy organization FCT against Zamora and G\u00f3mez. The outlet published a \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/cronica.com.gt\/juez-que-dio-orden-de-captura-contra-zamora-vinculado-a-fundacion-contra-el-terrorismo\/\"\u003Eprivate picture from 2021 of the judge\u003C\/a\u003E at a shooting range with a member of the foundation, implying a personal relationship.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cThis is a political hit job fabricated by the president [Alejandro Giammattei], the attorney general, and others,\u201d Zamora has said about the accusations against him. In an \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.washingtonpost.com\/opinions\/2022\/08\/04\/guatemala-arrest-jose-ruben-zamora\/\"\u003EAug. 4 editorial\u003C\/a\u003E, The Washington Post called the charges against Zamora \u201cspurious.\u201d The Inter-American Press association \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/en.sipiapa.org\/notas\/1215305-iapa-denounces-intense-intimidation-against-guatemalas-independent-press\"\u003Ecalled the operation\u003C\/a\u003E against Zamora and elPeri\u00f3dico \u201cdisproportionate\u201d and argued that it \u201csuggests that the Guatemalan government is seeking to silence this media outlet known for its denunciations of corruption.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFor months Zamora has publicly stated that the government was looking to \u201c\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/prnoticias.com\/2021\/10\/20\/periodista-guatemalteco-denuncia-que-el-estado-fabrica-un-caso-en-su-contra-para-apresarlo\/\"\u003Emount a case to lock me up\u003C\/a\u003E.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn the day of the raids, and at the order of the FECI, the police climbed down from Zamora\u2019s roof onto an interior patio instead of ringing the doorbell, despite having obtained a search warrant from Judge Orellana to enter through the front door. G\u00f3mez was detained the same day in the FECI offices. Both now await trial in the military prison Mariscal Zavala in Guatemala City, a facility incarcerating former officials who Zamora has written about and who G\u00f3mez has investigated in recent years.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EGarc\u00eda Navarijo cited unspecified \u201cthreats\u201d against him in his decision to not attend the hearings. Ra\u00fal Falla, the attorney representing him, and FECI chief Rafael Curruchiche have been sanctioned by the U.S. State Department on accusations of obstructing justice. The FCT, Falla\u2019s organization, is one of the lead architects behind a \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202206\/centroamerica\/26216\/New-Targets-of-Attorney-General%E2%80%99s-Lawfare-against-Guatemalan-Justice.htm\"\u003Ewave of criminal complaints against independent justice system operators\u003C\/a\u003E. For years the organization has publicly defended members of the Armed Forces accused of human rights violations and condemned the charges of genocide against ex-president Efra\u00edn R\u00edos Montt.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EThe Recordings\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENone of the audio recordings that the FECI played in the pre-trial hearings show Zamora asking Garc\u00eda Navarijo to launder money, threatening the former banker with publishing damaging information unless he deposited the money, or stating that he had obtained the funds illicitly. Prosecutors have also yet to present evidence that Zamora obtained the money collected as evidence through blackmail and have thus far relied solely on Garc\u00eda Navarijo\u2019s testimony.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EA recording of prosecutor Samari G\u00f3mez similarly did not show any evidence supporting the accusation against her of leaking confidential case information.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn one recorded call on Aug. 9, 2021, just six days after Curruchiche was named as head of the FECI in Sandoval\u2019s place, Zamora had called a meeting at his home with his attorneys Mario Casta\u00f1eda and Romeo Montoya to discuss how to register in the paper\u2019s accounting records 200 thousand quetzales ($26 thousand) received from ARCA, a firm created by the executives of Bantrab supposedly for marketing purposes. In a 2018 statement to the FECI, Zamora said the money was a loan from Eduardo Jos\u00e9 Li\u00fa Yon, a Bantrab executive, one of the board members alongside Garc\u00eda Navarijo to be indicted for the embezzlement of the $3.4 million in bank funds.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAfter the hearing on Aug. 3, Zamora asserted that he sometimes received advance payments from banks and advertisers and decided what to do with the money as needs arose. In the meeting at his home in August 2021, due to the Bantrab case and the change of leadership at the FECI, those present agreed that he needed to put on paper what he ultimately did with the money from the check. One possibility was to record it as publicity sales, given that the bank was one of elPeri\u00f3dico\u2019s advertisers.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EProsecutor Monterroso claimed that the recording showed Zamora and his attorneys conspiring to hide the origin of the money, but in reality it revealed Garc\u00eda Navarijo explaining how they could justify the check, with phrases like \u201cI have the seals,\u201d meaning that he can notarize documents. \u201cHere the active person was Garc\u00eda Navarijo,\u201d argued defense attorney Ulate, continuing: \u201cHe [Garc\u00eda Navarijo] proposes: \u2018I think we should do it like this.\u2019 He says [to Zamora]: \u2018You\u2019re named in a CICIG report.\u2019 He gives the information to Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora.\u201d Ulate called the plaintiff \u201cthe provoking agent\u201d in the call.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E \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=37897 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora habla con periodistas despu\u00e9s de una audiencia en el Palacio de Justicia de la Ciudad de Guatemala. 30 de noviembre de 2022.\u00a0Foto de El Faro: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/ AFP.\" \/\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\"\u003E Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora habla con periodistas despu\u00e9s de una audiencia en el Palacio de Justicia de la Ciudad de Guatemala. 30 de noviembre de 2022.\u00a0Foto de El Faro: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/ AFP. \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\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn another call played in court between Garc\u00eda Navarijo and assistant prosecutor Samari G\u00f3mez, and contrary to the plaintiff\u2019s claim that they showed evidence of influence trafficking, they had a standard conversation about the terms of a cooperation agreement. Nor did they even mention Jos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora or Juan Francisco Sandoval. The recording does reveal Garc\u00eda Navarijo stating that he wanted to postpone his deal with the FECI: \u201cI\u2019ll cooperate, but not for the next few months. I need to gauge the winds.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EZamora\u2019s legal team questioned the legality of the recordings, claiming that Garc\u00eda Navarijo illegally obtained them without the consent of involved parties. They also argued that under normal processes the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office would have responded to the filing by initiating an investigation and filed wiretapping requests for the phones of the accuser and the accused, rather than leaving evidence collection to the plaintiff. Garc\u00eda Navarijo recorded one of the conversations after filing the report, the defense noted, when authorities would have had the authority and obligation to obtain a wiretap.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EPossible Ulterior Motive\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EZamora says that Garc\u00eda Navarijo visited his home in the last week of June to complain that the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office had not unfrozen 33 million quetzales ($4.4 million) from an account in his name. Present at the time was Manfredo Marroqu\u00edn, the director of transparency advocacy NGO Acci\u00f3n Ciudadana. \u201c[Garc\u00eda Navarijo]\u201d literally told me, and Manfredo Marroqu\u00edn witnessed it, that Mr. Curruchiche asked for 15 percent [of the money] and for him to burn people bothersome to the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office and the sitting administration,\u201d claimed Zamora, adding that he told the former banker not to give in.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EMarroqu\u00edn confirmed to El Faro that he was present for the encounter and heard the allegation against Curruchiche. He says Garc\u00eda Navarijo felt that \u201cthey wanted to screw him\u201d for statements that he made to the FECI under Juan Francisco Sandoval\u2019s tenure, like the admission that he laundered money for Mauricio Funes and Jimmy Morales.\u00a0 Marroqu\u00edn says that the now-plaintiff told them that \u201cI won\u2019t play along\u201d and that he didn\u2019t want to pay.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn Aug. 5, Curruchiche told El Faro that he could not have asked for a cut of the money because it was in accounts \u201cembargoed since 2016 and facing civil asset forfeiture.\u201d He added that the accounts belong to Bantrab and are in the name of four other people.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cFour weeks ago [Garc\u00eda Navarijo] asked for the embargo to be lifted,\u201d said Curruchiche. \u201cThe FECI was opposed because it\u2019s money from salaries and allowances. It\u2019s an illegal way to take funds from the Workers\u2019 Bank and the Prosecutor\u2019s Office for Civil Asset Forfeiture is handling the case.\u201d On Aug. 5 digital outlet Soy502 wrote that, according to Asset Forfeiture Judge Marco Villeda, the specialized court \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.soy502.com\/articulo\/paso-q33-millones-embargados-garcia-navarijo-101567\"\u003Ehas no case tied to Garc\u00eda Navarijo\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EPer Curruchiche, the FECI rejected the request to free the funds in mid-July, though outlet Plaza P\u00fablica reported that a judge \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.plazapublica.com.gt\/content\/quien-es-garcia-navarijo-y-por-que-es-protagonista-en-el-proceso-contra-jose-ruben-zamora-y\"\u003Eunfroze the account\u003C\/a\u003E on the 18th of that month. Prosecutors assert that Garc\u00eda Navarijo and Zamora \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.prensalibre.com\/guatemala\/justicia\/imputan-cuatro-delitos-al-periodista-jose-ruben-zamora-en-la-audiencia-de-primera-declaracion-y-el-mp-presentan-q300-mil-como-medio-de-prueba-breaking\/\"\u003Espoke over the phone\u003C\/a\u003E the next day of the 300 thousand quetzales in cash to be deposited in one of Garc\u00eda Navarijo\u2019s accounts and then for a check to be written to elPeri\u00f3dico for the same amount.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EUlate argued this could not have been carried out because the frozen accounts would have prevented Garc\u00eda Navarijo from depositing and cutting a check. He also mentioned a text messaging conversation between his client and the plaintiff: \u201cJos\u00e9 Rub\u00e9n Zamora tells him that he has financial problems, that \u2018I\u2019m finding money.\u2019 He doesn\u2019t say, \u2018Launder this money for me.\u2019 Then Ronaldo Garc\u00eda Navarijo tells [the FECI] that \u2018I think the money comes from blackmail.\u2019\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EGarc\u00eda Navarijo \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.plazapublica.com.gt\/content\/quien-es-garcia-navarijo-y-por-que-es-protagonista-en-el-proceso-contra-jose-ruben-zamora-y\"\u003Ehad a hearing for the Bantrab case\u003C\/a\u003E on July 25 but did not appear, citing sickness with Covid-19. The next day, as the accounts \u2014per Curruchiche\u2014 were still frozen, he arrived at the FECI at 10 p.m. and filed the criminal complaint against Zamora.\u003C\/p\u003E"}