Guatemala request to lift president's immunity to proceed

Associated Press

Guatemala's Supreme Court ruled Monday that a request to lift President Jimmy Morales' immunity from prosecution should go before lawmakers for final consideration.

The court's decision on the request from prosecutors is related to allegations of illegal financing for Morales' 2015 campaign. Investigations have targeted several political parties including his National Convergence Front.

"There appears to be sufficient evidence to allow the transfer of the case to congress," Supreme Court spokesman Angel Pineda said.

Congress must now form a five-member committee to examine the case and present its conclusion to the full body. For the immunity of office that Morales enjoys as president to be lifted, 105 of the 158 deputies would have to vote in favor.

Morales issued a statement Monday saying he would continue to respect the country's institutions. He asked Guatemalans to remain objective.

Prosecutors allege that about $825,000 in financing for Morales' campaign was hidden and that other expenditures had no explainable source of funding. The president has denied any wrongdoing.

Last month chief prosecutor Thelma Adana and Ivan Velasquez, the head of a U.N. anti-corruption commission operating in Guatemala, announced they were seeking to have Morales' immunity withdrawn.

Two days later the president ordered Velasquez's immediate expulsion from the country, but that was swiftly overturned by the Constitutional Court.

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