Guatemala court ruling all but ends ex-prosecutor's election hopes

by Reuters
Thursday, 16 May 2019 02:30 GMT

GUATEMALA CITY, May 15 (Reuters) - Guatemala's top court on Wednesday rejected an appeal to clear the way for a former attorney general to seek the country's presidency next month, all but ending her chances of competing.

By a vote of six to one, judges on the Constitutional Court threw out an appeal by the party of Thelma Aldana to overturn a decision last month by Guatemala's electoral tribunal to revoke her candidacy for the presidential election.

A court spokesman announced the decision.

The electoral tribunal based its decision to block Aldana on the grounds she is facing accusations of financial wrongdoing during her time as attorney general. Aldana has rejected the allegations and says they are politically motivated.

Other pending appeals relating to her electoral bid could theoretically offer her a way back to the contest.

However, time constraints make such an outcome highly unlikely and Aldana herself said she had been blocked from competing after the court announced its ruling.

"It's become clear that the fight against corruption and criminal structures in our country have a very high cost for anyone, as I did, who attempts to carry it out," she said in a statement posted on her Twitter account.

"Today the Constitutional Court has decided that I will not take part in this electoral process, and our country has been pushed to a precipice," Aldana added.

A pugnacious prosecutor, Aldana helped to bring down the previous administration of ex-president Otto Perez in 2015. Aldana successfully brought corruption charges against Perez, who is now in prison being tried for various crimes.

Her departure from the race would put a former first lady in pole-position ahead of the first round of voting on June 16.

The ruling against Aldana follows the exclusion earlier this week of Zury Rios, whose father Efrain Rios Montt ruled Guatemala after a military coup in the early 1980s.

Of the top three from a field of more than 20 candidates, only former first lady Sandra Torres is still in the race.

Aldana has also been a strong critic of the current government, and her supporters says charges against her for allegedly spending public funds on workshops that never happened were trumped-up to damage her tilt for office. (Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Editing by Michael Perry)

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