USA

Guatemala Ousts Anti-corruption Prosecutor Praised by US

GUATEMALA CITY - Guatemala's attorney general has removed the leader of the Special Prosecutor's Office Against Impunity less than two months after U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris stressed the office's importance amid a growing push against anti-corruption efforts in the country.

Attorney General Consuelo Porras removed Juan Francisco Sandoval on Friday because of "constant abuses and frequent abuses to the institutionality" of the ministry, according to a government statement.

Sandoval is a respected anti-corruption prosecutor with a record of pursuing dozens of criminal networks. Together with the former United Nations anti-corruption mission in Guatemala he helped take down former President Otto Pérez Molina and some members of his Cabinet on corruption charges.

In June, Harris visited Guatemala as part of her work to find ways the U.S. can help address the root causes of Central American migration, among them corruption. She told Guatemalan officials that the U.S. wanted to support anti-corruption efforts and that the participation of the anti-impunity prosecutor's office and Sandoval would be essential.

Observers had worried that Porras was blocking the work of Sandoval's office and that his own job could be jeopardy.

Porras did not provide details of Sandoval's alleged abuses. She had blocked attempts by Sandoval's office to lift the immunity of government officials suspected of crimes or make arrests of powerful individuals investigated for corruption. Sandoval confirmed his firing to the AP.

On Thursday, Porras removed another prosecutor from the anti-impunity office. 

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