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Guatemala Attorney General Fires Leading Anti-corruption Prosecutor

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GUATEMALA CITY:Guatemala’s attorney general on Friday removed the country’s internationally known graft prosecutor from his post as head of the anti-corruption unit.

The Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI), led by Juan Francisco Sandoval, had been hit with legal challenges seeking to declare the agency unconstitutional.

The unit was originally created to tackle investigations spearheaded by the U.N.-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which was ousted from the country in 2019.

“Given the imminent lack of trust in the relationship, today his employment is terminated,” Attorney General Maria Porras said in a statement, accusing Sandoval of frequent abuses and undermining her work. She did not provide details.

Reuters was unable to reach Sandoval immediately for comment.

Sandoval had been internationally recognized for his anti-corruption work as head of the unit that investigated and litigated cases against former officials, former presidents and business leaders in Guatemala.

Still, President Alejandro Giammattei said in an interview with Reuters in June that Sandoval and a leading judge had allowed political beliefs to color their work.

Sandoval told Reuters in response to Giammattei’s comments that judges and prosecutors had political beliefs but that their work reflected respect for laws, not ideology.

The United States was a vocal supporter of Sandoval, with the State Department declaring him an “anti-corruption champion” in a February award.

The United States has committed to helping Central American countries fight impunity for high-level law breakers. In recent months, Washington has blacklisted two senior judges in Guatemala on graft suspicions and criticized lawmakers’ refusal to swear in a corruption-fighting judge.

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