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

Reuters News
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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.

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)