elPeriódico: Suspended the first trial hearing of journalist José Rubén Zamora in Guatemala | International

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A banner in support of José Rubén Zamora, director of ‘elPeriódico’ in Guatemala.JOHAN ORDONEZ (AFP)

The first hearing of the trial against the president of the newspaper, The renowned journalist José Rubén Zamora, for the alleged crime of “money laundering”, was suspended this Monday in Guatemala for two bizarre reasons: the first was that the seventh judge of the Judicial Body did not receive the file and the second was that the car in which the accused was taken to the Court Tower “he broke down.”

Mario Castañeda, a lawyer who defends Zamora, indicated that he hopes to have access “to the judicial file” of the case this Monday, because otherwise it would be “impossible to exercise a defense without knowing” the file. The case is “under reserve”, but the lawyer of the president of the newspaper He pointed out that said measure is for the population in general and should not be used against one of the parties to the judicial process.

According to various social organizations and other sources, including dozens of journalists who protested in various parts of the country, canceling the hearing is a strategy to keep Zamora in jail. The humanitarian organization Truth and Justice indicated through its social networks that the postponement of hearings “has been a malicious litigation strategy” to delay processes.

The expectation grew outside the Court Tower when Zamora did not arrive at the time of the hearing. Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman Jordán Rodas said he did not know Zamora’s whereabouts. “I fear for his life,” Rodas said. The journalist said Saturday morning, after his arrest, that he would go on a hunger strike.

Zamora’s arrest took place five days after strong denunciations of several officials and former officials of the Government of Alejandro Giammattei for corruption, in a Sunday section of elPeriódico.

They seize accounts of ‘elPeriódico’

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This morning the publication directed by Zamora denounced that its accounts were seized at the request of the Special Prosecutor Against Impunity (FECI), “with the sole intention of paralyzing the finances of the media outlet, preventing it from fulfilling its labor and contractual obligations. ”.

“This action does not agree with the statements made by the head of the FECI, Rafael Curruchiche, insofar as the persecution of our president, Jose Rubén Zamora Marroquín, is solely in his capacity as a businessman and not a journalist,” criticized the newspaper in a article published on your website. “The case is under reserve and there are no more details of the judicial file for which Zamora is being persecuted.”

“They are also setting up a climate of intimidation for those who financially support the newspaper, which is a small group of businessmen, two of whom are the main shareholders of Pepsicola and Cerveza Brava in Guatemala. This goes further: They want to put an end to elPeriódico”, insisted the journalist Juan Luis Font, who directed the persecuted publication.

Gypsy Guillén Kaiser, advocacy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), demanded Zamora’s release. “The judicial persecution against journalists is a mechanism of intimidation and the Guatemalan authorities must put an end to their campaign of intimidation and threats to the press,” she cites the statement.

IAPA President Jorge Canahuati also urged President Giammattei to give “clear signs” that guarantee due process and freedom of the press. For his part, Carlos Jornet, president of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, said that the “spectacularity and disproportionality of the raid operations make it appear that the government is seeking to intimidate journalists and media outlets that monitor power.”

The newspaper the newspaper was born in 1996 under the leadership of Zamora, a 66-year-old engineer by training, who has been honored with awards such as the International Press Freedom Awards in 1995, the María Moors Cabot Award that same year, and the International Press Institute World Press Freedom Heroes in the year 2000. The publications of Zamora and the newspaper In the last decade, they evidenced hundreds of acts of corruption in the governments of Otto Pérez Molina and his vice president, Roxana Baldetti (2012-2015), but also in the administrations of Jimmy Morales (2016-2020) and Giammattei himself. For now, it is not clear when the rescheduled trial hearing will be.

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