Guatemala arrests lawyer who assisted anti-corruption effort
GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — A Guatemalan lawyer who previously represented the United Nations-backed anti-corruption mission in court proceedings was arrested Thursday by agents from the Attorney General’s Office in what some observers saw as retribution against those who helped the highly effective anti-corruption effort.
Leidy Indira Santizo Rodas is accused of obstruction of justice, but Attorney General’s Office spokesman Juan Luis Pantaleón did not share additional details and the case remains under seal.
The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, better known by its Spanish initials CICIG, supported a number of high-profile successful prosecutions, including taking down former President Otto Pérez Molina and Vice President Roxanna Baldetti.
Over 12 years, the CICIG helped dismantle more than 60 criminal networks, resulting in the sentencing of more than 400 people. The mission was staffed by foreign specialists and Guatemalans like Santizo.
In 2019, then President Jimmy Morales ended the CICIG’s mission as it continued to upset the country’s elite.
The U.N.’s remaining presence in Guatemala did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last year, Attorney General Consuelo Porras fired Juan Francisco Sandoval, who had headed the office of the Special Prosecutor Against Impunity, which had worked closely with the CICIG. Sandoval fled into exile. The U.S. government later cancelled Porras’ visa, accusing her of undermining Guatemala’s democracy by blocking investigations into corruption.
Constitutional lawyer Alejandro Balsells said there was “no doubt” that there was persecution of everyone who worked with the CICIG or Sandoval’s office “and everyone who would be an obstacle to current abuses of power.”