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Guatemala: Owner of Opposition Newspaper Pleads Not Guilty in Controversial Money Laundering Trial

The owner of an opposition newspaper Guatemala rejected the charges for alleged money laundering on Wednesday, in a controversial trial that has been criticized by Washingtonpress unions and international NGOs.

This case is the first hearing of my life, I had never been sitting in court“, he claimed Jose Ruben Zamoraowner of The newspaperwhen declaring his innocence before the court that has been judging him since Tuesday.

LOOK HERE: Guatemala: Journalist Opposing the President Says He Is Imprisoned for Investigating Corruption

Zamora, who has been in prison since last July, rejected the accusations by the Prosecutor’s Office of having tried to launder thousands of dollars, a charge for which he risks a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Laundering is illegal money that is banked, this was legal money”, affirmed the 66-year-old communicator about the amount of cash seized by the Prosecutor’s Office.

This trial has provoked international criticism and reports of attacks on freedom of expression in Guatemalaand adds to a wave of arrests of former prosecutors who investigated notorious cases of corruption in the country.

Zamora has said the charges are retaliation for his posts about government corruption and has accused the Guatemalan president of fabricating the case. Alejandro Giammatteiand the attorney general, consuelo porrassanctioned by USA by “corruption” in 2021.

On the one hand I feel happy because being there (in jail, because) means that my job was well done”, indicated Zamora, who was questioned for more than two hours by prosecutors and defense attorneys.

According to the accusation, Zamora is involved in a plot to launder $37,500 that would come from blackmailing businessmen not to publish information against them.

But the communicator, who considers himself “political prisoner”, he told the court that the money came from the sale of a painting by the late Guatemalan painter Elmar Rojas with which he was going to cover the salaries of workers at El Periódico, a medium that has received international awards.

MORE INFORMATION: Guatemala: Prosecutor’s Office Announces New Case Against Owner of Opposition Newspaper

Some 30 experts and witnesses are going to testify in this trial, which could take weeks.

On February 28, a judge ordered the opening of a second trial against Zamora, for allegedly trying to stop an investigation for money laundering in 2021.

The judge also proposed investigating the newspaper’s editors for alleged obstruction of justice, which led eight people to leave the country, including three editors, two columnists and its director, Julia Coradoaccording to Zamora.

Source: Elcomercio

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