Guatemala judge orders ex-president Perez to face trial on fraud charges

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 08, 2015 3:18 PM

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - A Guatemalan judge on Tuesday ordered fallen former president Otto Molina to stand trial on charges of criminal association, taking bribes and customs fraud, amid a graft scandal that stoked a political crisis as the country headed into a presidential election.

Perez, a 64-year-old retired general who was elected in late 2011 on a vow to fight crime and corruption, resigned as president last week and was held in jail pending a hearing into accusations he made millions of dollars from a customs racket.

Comic actor Jimmy Morales rode a wave of outrage over the scandal to win the most votes in Guatemala's presidential election on Sunday, and is seen as having a strong chance of winning a runoff next month.

It remains unclear whether he will face a former first lady or conservative businessman, who remain neck and neck as the vote count from Sunday's vote continues.

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Congress has sworn in Perez' vice president, Alejandro Maldonado, to fill out his term until power is handed over to the eventual winner in January.

(Reporting by Enrique Andres Pretel; Editing by Simon Gardner)