“Guatemala is in a legal crisis,” says the lawyer.

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

David Toro Escobar |

Guatemala, 19 September (EFE). — The criminal prosecution against well-known journalist José Rubén Zamora Marroquín in Guatemala illustrates a “delicate” country and a justice system close to a “revenge game,” according to the communicator’s lawyer, Cristian Ulate.

“Guatemala is going through a delicate phase, we have to pay attention to the justice system, we can’t be drawn into this game of revenge,” the Costa Rican lawyer told Efe.

Ulate stressed that specific targets such as judges and prosecutors are being pursued in Guatemala, leading the Central American country into a worrying “legal crisis”.

Lawyer Cristian Ulate (d) during the last hearing of the case of José Rubén Zamora. EFE/Esteban Biba

In the case of Samora Marroquin, the lawyer also pointed out that the evidence presented by the Ministry of Public Administration (deputy, prosecutor’s office) against the journalist was not convincing.

“I want to leave here with my head held high because I am innocent and have not committed any crimes,” said Samora Marrokin Ulata during one of their meetings in August, according to the lawyer.

The journalist, founder and president of the morning newspaper El Periódico was arrested on July 29, just five days after he had been heavily critical of Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattea.

Later, on August 7, Zamora Marroquin was charged with money laundering, influence peddling and blackmail by the seventh judge of the Judiciary of Guatemala, Fredy Orellana.

refute the evidence

The case against the communicator is backed up, according to prosecutors, by the testimony of Ronald Garcia Navarijo, a former banker charged with corruption in 2017.

The version of the ex-banker indicates that the journalist allegedly received about 38 thousand dollars and did not want to regularly enter them into the banking system, so he turned to Garcia Navarijo for help.

The former banker also claimed that the journalist blackmailed him into agreeing to help him launder the money.

According to the Ministry of Public Administration, Samora Marroquin’s alleged money laundering offense was committed on July 19 this year, 10 days before his arrest.

The main piece of evidence the Prosecutor presented to Judge Orellana in August was a series of recordings by Garcia Navarijo during a meeting with Zamora.

“Not once in the audio recordings of José Ruben Zamora did I hear him say that this money was obtained from illegal activities and that he needed to launder it,” said Ulate Efe, who also questions the legal validity of the recordings due to the conditions in which they were made. received by the State Department.

Another piece of evidence presented by prosecutors against President El Periódico is a package of money with $38,000 in question (300,000 quetzals in local currency) that Samora Marroquín allegedly gave to García Navarijo.

Ulate expressed regret that said bundles of notes were presented at the hearing without the bank seals they originally had when they were in the possession of Samora Marroquin, and that he believed they were the key to verifying that the money was legally origin.

“What happened to those banking sites? Who took them? They were taken away by the same prosecutor’s office? We made a request to the prosecutor’s office, and they told us that for them bank seals are not evidence in the case, ”Ulate emphasized.

The lawyer also argued that bank seals are needed to verify the identity of the businessman who gave the money to the journalist.

Similarly, Ulate pointed out that at the right time, it was the businessman who gave the money to the journalist who could testify on his behalf and explain that the amount was given voluntarily to alleviate El Periódico’s financial problems.

Guatemalan journalist Jose Ruben Zamora in a file photo. EFE/Esteban Biba

Journalist’s health

Samora Marroquin, who turned 66 in prison last August, is in stable health, although he had problems with high blood pressure in the early days of preventive detention, Ulate explained.

The journalist is cut off from communication with the El Periódico team so as not to interfere in the ongoing investigation against him.

The communicator is imprisoned at the Mariscal Zavala military barracks in northeast Guatemala City, along with 200 high-profile prisoners, many of whom were convicted in the pages of El Periódico.

Ulate hopes that Guatemala will not fall into the game of judicial revenge. “I believe that this is not the case and that Mr. José Ruben will be able to prove before objective and impartial judges that the deputy’s testimony is not enough even to bring him to trial,” he concluded.

In December, Judge Fredi Orellana will decide whether the prosecution’s evidence is sufficient to bring the journalist to justice.

Web Editing: Natalia Sarmiento

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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