Guatemalan president imprisoned over corruption scandal

Guatemalan president imprisoned over corruption scandal
# 04 September 2015 04:23 (UTC +04:00)

Police officers on Thursday escorted the former president to an overnight jail stay after Judge Miguel Angel Galvez ordered, during a hearing earlier in the day, that Perez Molina be held provisionally in jail to guarantee his safety and “ensure the continuity of the hearing” next day.

The hearing is set to continue at 8:00 a.m. local time (14 00 p.m GMT) on Friday.

The embattled leader said the jail stay was unnecessary, adding that he has always promised to “respect due process” and that he is “not going to flee.”

After the resignation of Perez Molina, the country’s vice president, Alejandro Maldonado, was sworn in as the interim president.

Maldonado will serve as the country’s president until January 14, 2016, when the winner of the September 6 presidential election is inaugurated.

Perez Molina decided to resign from presidency in order to confront “individually the proceedings against him,” his spokesman, Jorge Ortega, said on Thursday.

Perez Molina’s resignation came hours after an arrest warrant was issued for him as a preliminary probe is underway into corruption allegations against his administration.

On Tuesday, Guatemala’s legislature lifted Perez Molina's immunity, paving the way for the president to be prosecuted over allegations of being behind a massive corruption scheme, in which business people reportedly paid bribes to avoid import duties through the customs agency.

Perez Molina, 64, has rejected the allegations and vowed to face the legal process. No formal charges have been filed against him yet.

This is the first time in the country’s history that an incumbent president faces legal prosecution.

Business leaders, Guatemala’s National Council of Bishops and even the government comptrollers’ office had urged Perez Molina to step down.