Ex-Guatemalan President Otto Perez And His Vice Jailed 16 Years ForĀ Corruption

A Guatemalan court on Wednesday December 7, sentenced the country's former president, Otto Perez to 16 years in prison, finding him guilty of leading a massive customs fraud scheme while in office.
Perez, who was forced to resign in 2015, was found guilty of racketeering and fraud targeting the customs system, Judge Irma Jeannette Valdes said as she read out the sentence.
Perez was sentenced to eight years on each count. His former vice president Roxana Baldetti received the same sentence.
Perez, who was president of Guatemala from 2012 to 2015, has spent the last seven years in prison awaiting a verdict in the case. Baldetti was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison in 2018 in a separate fraud case.
A UN-backed anti-corruption body revealed several scandals in Guatemala before it was shut down in 2019 by then-president Jimmy Morales after it began investigating him.
Perez, a 72-year-old retired general who took office promising to crack down on crime, was forced to resign with just four months left in his term amid protests over corruption scandals.
"All that's left is to appeal," Perez told reporters during a break in the trial, adding he felt "cheated" because the conviction was made "without a shred of proof."
Perez and Baldetti were accused of leading a customs fraud network that stole some $3.5 million in state funds during their administration, with both Perez and Baldetti accused by investigators of receiving hefty cuts.
Investigators had charged that the two led a scheme in which importers paid bribes to avoid paying customs duties. More than two dozen others have been charged in the case.
Perez was ordered to pay 8.7 million quetzales ($1.10 million) while Baldetti was fined 8.4 million quetzales ($1.06 million) on Wednesday.
The case, known as "La Linea," was originally investigated under the now-defunct International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), backed by the United Nations.