A Guatemalan appeals court annuls the conviction against journalist José Rubén Zamora and orders a repeat trial | International

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José Rubén Zamora before the Court Tower of Guatemala City, last June.Esteban Biba (EFE)

A Guatemalan appeals court decided on Thursday to annul the sentence handed down in June against journalist José Rubén Zamora Marroquín and ordered to repeat the judicial process that last June sentenced him to six years in prison for an alleged crime of money laundering. The court's decision against the founder of the newspaper It occurred, before the presidential elections, in a context of persecution of informants and judicial operators who investigate corruption. This attack, according to several organizations dedicated to the defense of human rights and the accused themselves, is encouraged by the ruling party and, ultimately, by the outgoing president, Alejandro Giammattei.

Zamora Marroquín's son, Ramón Zamora, confirmed this Friday the revocation of the sentence. “We hope that now we will be able to have a fair trial where his right to defense is respected,” said the journalist's son. The Public Ministry, led by Attorney General María Consuelo Porras, had requested a sentence of 40 years in prison in a process considered by Zamora as political persecution against him. The journalist's relatives appealed the sentence and expressed their intention to exhaust all judicial avenues in Guatemala before appealing to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR).

The veteran journalist, who has always denied the charges and has pleaded not guilty, was accused of money laundering, blackmail and influence peddling. The case began with a complaint from former banker Ronald Giovanni García Navarijo. The accusation referred to an alleged attempt by Zamora to force him to launder 300,000 quetzales, nearly $38,000. The founder of the newspaper He admitted the existence of that sum of money, but defended its legality and assured that its origin was the sale of a painting to finance the media outlet that he founded in 1996 and that in May he was forced to announce the closure of the operation due to harassment. of the government.

Society's fatigue with corruption and the authoritarian drift of the Executive is precisely the fuel for the protests, blockades and strikes that have paralyzed the Central American country for almost two weeks. The protesters' central demand is the resignation of Attorney General Porras, close to Giammattei and included by the United States on the State Department's Engel List "due to her participation in significant acts of corruption." In August, the Semilla Movement won the elections, a progressive formation that advocates a profound democratic regeneration, and the elected president, Bernardo Arévalo, has denounced on multiple occasions the so-called “pact of the corrupt” to torpedo his inauguration next January.

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