Guatemalans march over president’s bid to close UN anti-graft unit

Storekeepers of La Terminal market march in support of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales in Guatemala City on January 12, 2019. (AFP / ORLANDO ESTRADA)
Updated 13 January 2019
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Guatemalans march over president’s bid to close UN anti-graft unit

  • Morales has charged that the UN mission overstepped its duties
  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres insisted Guatemala was legally obligated to maintain the mission, which began in 2006
GUATEMALA CITY: Thousands of Guatemalans took to the streets on Saturday, some in protest and others in support of President Jimmy Morales’s bid to close a UN anti-corruption mission that sought to investigate him on suspicion of campaign finance violations.
Marchers chanted and waved banners reading “We reject the government of the corrupt” and “We are against impunity” amid rising international concern.
In another part of the city, storekeepers of La Terminal market marched in support of the embattled president.
Morales notified the United Nations on Monday that the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) would close early.
It has been working since 2007 and has worked with the prosecutor’s office on graft and organized crime cases, among others.
Morales has charged that the mission overstepped its duties.
But on Wednesday, the country’s highest court stopped the ruling.
The Constitutional Court ordered government authorities to tell staff and civil servants to cooperate with the UN mission.
It is the latest twist in a saga that erupted last year when the CICIG made a joint request with the state prosecutor’s office to lift Morales’s presidential immunity as part of a probe into illegal campaign financing by his FCN-Nacion party.
Morales responded by saying he would not renew the CICIG’s mission when it officially ends in September, and later tried unsuccessfully to block the mission’s head, Ivan Velasquez, from entering the country.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres insisted Guatemala was legally obligated to maintain the mission, which began in 2006.
CICIG and state prosecutors have presented evidence that Morales’s FCN-Nacion party failed to report nearly $1 million in financing to electoral authorities.
It’s not just Morales who is in the CICIG’s sights, though. His son and brother were charged with tax evasion and money laundering in 2016.


India’s Supreme Court chief justice denies sexually harassing assistant

Updated 20 April 2019
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India’s Supreme Court chief justice denies sexually harassing assistant

  • “This is unbelievable,” Gogoi, India’s most powerful judge said
  • The allegations, dating from October, were carried in full by a number of major Indian online publications

MUMBAI: The chief justice of India’s Supreme Court, Ranjan Gogoi, on Saturday denied allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward a junior court assistant who worked in an office at his home and that she was subsequently victimized.
“This is unbelievable,” Gogoi, India’s most powerful judge, told a special hearing of the court he called on Saturday so that the allegations could be addressed. “I should not stoop low even in denying it.”
Gogoi said the events showed that India’s judiciary was under “serious threat” and was being destabilized by a larger conspiracy, without elaborating.
“There is some bigger force behind the woman,” he said.
The allegations, dating from October, were carried in full by a number of major Indian online publications on Saturday.
The 35-year-old woman, whose identity has not been publicly disclosed, wrote a letter to all 22 of the Supreme Court judges along with an affidavit detailing her allegations on Friday.
Those included a series of allegations that the woman and her family were victimized by a series of related actions by the authorities, including the termination of her employment, and the suspension of her husband and his brother, who worked in the Delhi police force.
She also says another brother of her husband’s had his Supreme Court job terminated and she also faced a “false and frivolous” bribery complaint, leading to her arrest and subsequent bail.
“Me and my family’s victimization is a consequence of my not agreeing to the sexual advances made by the Chief Justice of India, Justice Rangan Gogoi,” she said in the letter to the judges.
Justice Arun Mishra, who joined Gogoi on the bench for the special hearing, said the allegations were “wild and baseless.”
The court asked the media to show restraint in covering the case to avoid undermining the reputation and independence of the judiciary, though it decided not to issue a gag order.