Guatemala transfers prosecutor who pursued former dictator

Guatemala’s attorney general has transferred the prosecutor leading the office that took former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt and other former military officers to trial for crimes against humanity

GUATEMALA CITY -- Guatemala’s attorney general has transferred the prosecutor leading the office that took former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt and other former military officers to trial for crimes against humanity.

Attorney General Consuelo Porras moved Hilda Pineda to a new office pursuing crimes against tourists. Pineda confirmed Monday that she was transferred.

The United States had already announced it was pulling its financial support from Porras’ agency and yanked her U.S. visa, saying it considers her an obstacle to the fight against corruption in Guatemala.

In July, Porras faced international criticism for removing Juan Francisco Sandoval, head of the country’s Special Prosecutor Against Impunity office.

Guatemala’s justice system has increasingly appeared to be an obstacle to the pursuit of corruption since the long-running United Nations anti-corruption mission was forced from the country in 2019.

Edgar Pérez, a lawyer who has represented victims of Guatemala’s armed conflict, said Pineda’s transfer is a loss and he did not know the motive.

“It is always a loss when there is someone specialized with a lot of experience,” he said.

Pineda brought Ríos Montt to trial and saw him sentenced to 80 years in prison, but the Constitutional Court overturned the sentence and Ríos Montt died in 2018 without a sentence.

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