Gu­atemala law­mak­ers curb penal­ties for il­le­gal elec­tion fi­nanc­ing

Stabroek News - - WORLD NEWS -

GU­ATEMALA CITY, (Reuters) - Gu­atemala’s Congress yes­ter­day ap­proved a “na­tional emer­gency” de­cree to curb penal­ties for il­le­gal elec­tion fi­nanc­ing af­ter the coun­try’s pres­i­dent was linked to sus­pected irregularities dur­ing his 2015 elec­tion cam­paign.

The change elim­i­nates crim­i­nal re­spon­si­bil­ity for “au­tho­riz­ing” elec­toral funds that prove to be il­le­gal and makes party ac­coun­tants re­spon­si­ble for irregularities rather than party lead­ers.

The re­form, ap­proved by a vote of 105-19, also re­duces the penalty for il­le­gal elec­tion fi­nanc­ing from a max­i­mum of 12 years to 10 and al­lows for pay­ing a fine in or­der to avoid jail time.

The de­cree was the lat­est blow to the pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice and the In­ter­na­tional Com­mis­sion Against Impunity in Gu­atemala (CICIG) af­ter Congress this week voted to pre­serve Pres­i­dent Jimmy Mo­rales’ im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion.

Prose­cu­tors had sought to re­move Mo­rales’ im­mu­nity to in­ves­ti­gate him over some $800,000 in al­legedly un­ex­plained cam­paign funds when he was the head of his party. Prose­cu­tors are also in­ves­ti­gat­ing Gu­atemala’s other ma­jor par­ties.

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