Former President Takes Guatemala to Court

May 18, 2007

GUATEMALA CITY – Former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo, a fugitive in Mexico and wanted by the law in his country for crimes of corruption, filed suit against the Guatemalan government before the Central American Court of Justice (CCJ) for revoking his immunity.

A representative of the Guatemalan Supreme Court reported that the regional court notified the Guatemalan government May 11 about Portillo’s lawsuit, which was filed in October of last year.

Portillo, who governed Guatemala from 2000-2004, went to the Nicaragua-based CCJ to sue the Guatemalan government for having rescinded the immunity he supposedly enjoys as a lawmaker with the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN).

According to the former President, the court case brought against him in Guatemala, through which a request was made to Mexico for his arrest and extradition, is not legitimate because he enjoys immunity as a PARLACEN legislator. All former Presidents of member Central American nations automatically become members of PARLACEN.

Attorney General Mario Gordillo, in his function as attorney for the Guatemalan government, qualified Portillo’s lawsuit as “illegitimate.”

Guatemala, Gordillo noted, has not joined the CCJ and consequently it “has no authority” in this country.

He also said that the

Constitutional Court, Guatemala

’s highest tribunal, previously determined that Portillo does not enjoy immunity as a PARLACEN lawmaker “since he was not elected by popular vote.”

These are the arguments Guatemala will use to try to nullify the lawsuit filed in the CCJ, Gordillo said.

Portillo is accused by the Guatemalan Government Attorney ’s Office of being the chief culprit in the embezzling of 120 million quetzals (about $15.7 million) that disappeared after being transferred to the Defense Ministry.

Until now, legal maneuvers by Portillo’s attorneys before the Mexican courts have kept that country’s authorities from complying with Guatemala’s request for his arrest and extradition.

 

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