GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemala’s Supreme Court gave the go-ahead Wednesday for congress to decide whether to remove President Otto Perez Molina’s immunity from prosecution in a corruption scandal.
The move could end in a process similar to impeachment, if a congressional commission recommends trying Perez Molina.
The court ruled Wednesday on a complaint filed by a legislator, who claimed the president is linked to scandals involving kickbacks and bribes.
One scandal involves an alleged scheme in which businesses paid millions of dollars in bribes to avoid import duties. The other case involves allegations of kickbacks for overpriced contracts for the Social Security Institute.
The president has denied any involvement. He hasn’t been charged with any crimes, but many Guatemalans blame him for the corruption since it involves his administration.
In recent weeks, Guatemalan prosecutors and a U.N. commission formed to investigate corruption in the country have filed charges against dozens of people in the cases.
The process now moves on to Guatemala’s unicameral legislature, which will elect a five-member commission to investigate the complaint.
The commission will come back with a recommendation on whether to remove Perez Molina’s immunity or not. The legislature will then vote on whether to accept that recommendation.
Perez Molina’s allies do not hold a majority in congress.
In May, a court froze bank accounts linked to former Vice President Roxana Baldetti, who resigned this month after a corruption scandal reached into her office. Her former private secretary has been named as the purported mastermind of the import duties scheme.
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