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News > Guatemala

Guatemala Passes Commutation of Sentences in Corruption Cases

  • People protest corruption, Guatemala, Jun. 5, 2021.

    People protest corruption, Guatemala, Jun. 5, 2021. | Photo: EFE

Published 5 September 2021

The ruling allows people convicted of corruption to avoid a prison sentence by paying a fine if their penalties are below five years behind bars.

Guatemala's Constitutional Court (CC) approved the commutation of prison sentences in corruption cases whose penalties carry less than five years in prison. 


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The CC allows people convicted of corruption to avoid prison with the payment of a fine if their sentence does not exceed five years behind bars.

The ruling aims to reduce the penalties for cases that "escape the proper scope of corruption" such as disobedience, abandonment of office, or omission of assistance crimes. 

Besides embezzlement, illicit acceptance of gifts, illegal exactions, commutable crimes referred to in the sentence are undue collection, collusion, perjury, false testimony, and presentation of false witnesses.

Having been taken unanimously, the CC decision also involves crimes committed by judiciary branch officials, some of whom have been accused of corruption scandals.

International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Cicig) ex-director Ivan Velasquez described the decision as a setback in the fight against corruption in the Central American nation.

Civil society organization "JusticiaYa" rejected the ruling while arguing that the promoter of the law, Julio Garcia Merlos, is the lawyer of businessman Felipe Bosch, who was accused in a corruption case for illicitly financing the campaign of ex-president Jimmy Morales (2016-2020).

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