Guatemalan journalist calls accusations against him a ‘staging’

CITY OF GUATEMALA — The initial hearing of the prominent Guatemalan journalist before the judge was suspended on Wednesday when the judge announced that the defendant’s lawyers were also the target of a government investigation.

After the hearing, José Rubén Zamora, president of El Periodico newspaper, said that the case “was a staging effectively designed and mounted by the president, the attorney general and others”.

Attorney General Consuelo Porras’ office arrested Zamora on charges of money laundering, but during Wednesday’s hearing, Zamora and his attorneys were also charged with extortion.

The new allegation means that Zamora’s lawyers can no longer protect their clients from what they themselves are accused of.

Romeo Montoya, one of Zamora’s lawyers, said: “Ethically, it’s not appropriate.

The blackmail allegation comes from businessman Ronald Navarijo García, who was previously arrested on corruption charges for allegedly colluding with the directors of the Banco de los Trabajadores, or Workers’ Bank, to embezzle funds from the bank. this bank. Navarijo is under house arrest and his trial has not yet been scheduled.

Navarijo accused Zamora of blackmailing him about $25,000 to influence the case against him.

Zamora said he recently met Navarijo. During that meeting, he said, Navarijo told him that prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche, who is prosecuting Zamora, had asked Navarijo to pay 15% of the more than $4.2 million that the Attorney General’s Office had closed. tape in this businessman’s case.

Zamora added that Navarijo told him that Curruchiche also asked for something else: that Navarijo reported “people who are disturbing the Attorney General’s Office and the regime.”

The journalist was arrested at his home on Friday by agents and police armed with assault rifles. Authorities also raided El Periodico printers.

Press freedom groups have complained about the award-winning Zamora’s arrest. Critics of President Alejandro Giammattei’s administration say his arrest is an attempt to silence a prominent critic whose newspaper is known for its corruption investigations and a powerful message. addressed to other dissident voices in Guatemala.

The US government has sanctioned the attorney general of Guatemala as well as Curruchiche, whom Porras is in charge of investigating corruption, for allegedly being involved in corruption.

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