Guatemala City – Guatemala’s top anti-corruption investigator Juan Francisco Sandoval fled the country on Saturday hours after being fired, a move that sparked an international backlash, a human rights official said.
According to the Central American country’s human rights body, Guatemalan Ombudsman Jordan Rodas accompanied Sandoval to the Salvadoran border “in light of the difficult decision to leave the country to protect his life and integrity due to recent events”.
Sandoval was fired from his post as the head of Guatemala’s Prosecutor Against Corruption and Immunity (FECI) on Friday by Attorney General Consuelo Poros.
Sandoval said he has faced many obstacles in his work at FECI and was told not to investigate President Alejandro Giammattei without the attorney general’s consent, which he said was “against the autonomy and independence of FECI”. ” Was.
The attorney general’s office said he was let go because of “frequent abuse and persistent violations” of the institution and attempts to “undermine” Porus’ “work, integrity and dignity”.
His firing drew criticism from the US State Department, which has called him an “anti-corruption champion”, as well as outrage from humanitarian groups, civil society and businesses.
Julie Chung, acting assistant secretary of the US State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, condemned Sandoval’s dismissal in a tweet on Friday, saying it was “a significant blow to the rule of law.”
“It contributes to the perception of a systematic effort to undermine those known to fight corruption,” he said.
The Center for Corruption and Impunity in the North of Central America also criticized Porus’ decision, saying it would “settle the fight against corruption in the region”.
FECI was initially created to work with the United Nations International Commission on Corruption and Impunity in Guatemala, but the body’s work was halted in 2019 under a decision by then-President Jimmy Morales, when he Electoral corruption was chosen by both the institutions. .