The Guatemalan congress has voted against the lifting of President Jimmy Morales’ immunity from prosecution, blockings further legal action against the President as a result of allegations by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, which is known as CICIG.
The head of CICIG, Ivan Velasquez, has made corruption accusations against Morales’ campaign. The specific allegation is that about $825,000 in financing for Morales’ 2015 Presidential campaign was hidden and that other expenditures had no source of funding.
The allegations led to the Attorney General Thelma Aldana requesting that the Court rules on whether to remove President Morales’ immunity as President, to allow for further prosecution but that was denied.
With so many legislators embroiled in questions over campaign finance, the congressional vote not to remove the president’s immunity appeared to be a decision to close ranks against the investigation.
Hours before the Congress announced its decision, a congressional commission established to review the President’s immunity, recommended the protection be withdrawn to open the way for a possible trial on campaign-finance accusations.
Even though congress has denied the request, investigations can continue and the matter can be returned for voting.
President Morales has denied any wrongdoing. He issued a statement Monday night saying that the congressional decision "demonstrates the democratic maturity" of Guatemala's institutions.
Over a week ago, a decision by Morales to expel the head of CICIG from Guatemala after the allegations surfaced, triggered large demonstrations.