Prosecutor Sentenced to Four Years in Controversial Guatemalan Prosecutor Trial

A Guatemalan court on Friday sentenced anti-corruption prosecutor Virginia Laparra to four years in prison in a controversial and fast-paced trial, in a sentence criticized by human rights organizations.

Judge Oly González announced that Laparra “is responsible to the degree of author of the crime of abuse of authority on a continuous basis committed against the public administration […] and he is sentenced to four years in prison, commutable.”

“It is a legal aberration and a terrible precedent,” declared Laparra crying, who has been in prison for 10 months but can be released early if he pays bail, because it is a commutable sentence. The trial lasted just 18 days and all those who testified were police officers or civil servants, in addition to a controversial judge who was investigated by the defendant before falling out of favor and being arrested on February 23.

The court also disqualified Laparra from holding public office while serving her sentence, but she will be able to practice as a lawyer, a setback for the prosecution that had asked to disqualify her completely and that she be sentenced to eight uncommutable years in prison.

“This conviction is one more example of the criminalization of justice operators in Guatemala […]. Virginia Laparra is a prisoner of conscience who is paying a high price for exercising her work as an anti-corruption prosecutor”, reacted the director for the Americas of Amnesty International, Ericka Guevara Rosas.

Camus poem

At the end of the hearing, the prosecutor left the court in handcuffs, escorted by two female prison guards, while fifty activists chanted slogans such as “Virginia is innocent” and “out with the corrupt.”

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“We are in a difficult moment in the country and this is a terrible precedent because never again will a prosecutor dare to file a complaint,” Laparra, already handcuffed by the guards, told reporters.

Before being taken back to prison, Laparra read part of the poem “An invincible summer” by the French writer Albert Camus (1913-1960).

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