Guatemala nixes presidential bid of politician nabbed in US

April 24, 2019
A banner of presidential candidate Mario Estrada Orellana, with the National Change Unit (UCN) party, hugging children hangs outside his party's headquarters in Guatemala City, Thursday, April 18, 2019. Estrada Orella, 58, was arrested Wednesday in Miami on drug and weapons charges, accused of plotting to assassinate political rivals and let drug dealers use Guatemala's ports and airports. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemala’s electoral court on Wednesday annulled the candidacy of a presidential hopeful who was arrested in the U.S. last week and is accused of ties to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel.

The tribunal said its decision was due to “the notorious deeds that were revealed” in the case of Mario Amilcar Estrada Orellana. It applied a constitutional article concerning the suitability of candidates for elected office.

Estrada and an alleged accomplice were detained April 17 in Miami on drugs and weapons charges, accused of illicit electoral financing and plotting to assassinate political rivals and let traffickers use Guatemalan ports and airports if he were to be elected.

Estrada has not yet entered a plea and is due to be sent from Miami to New York for further proceedings in the case.

His party, the Union of National Change, has sought to distance itself from the allegations while asking for his presumption of innocence to be respected. Yoni Avila, a party official, said Wednesday that it would not appeal the disqualification ruling.

“We will be respectful of the resolution from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal,” Avila said. “The magistrates’ resolution will not be challenged.”

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