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Former Guatemalan President Colom arrested on corruption charges


Redacción Agencias | 2/14/2018, 7:04 a.m.
Former Guatemalan President Colom arrested on corruption charges
Alvaro Colom, expresidente de Guatemala | Foto Cortesía

Former Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom was arrested Tuesday in connection with the Transurbano corruption case, officials said.

Colom was expected to visit Honduras this week as a special OAS representative to direct discussions between its government, led by Juan Orlando Hernandez, and the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH).

The Attorney General's Office and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) on Tuesday carried out 14 raids to capture a number of individuals, including members of the former president's Cabinet.

Up to now, authorities have confirmed the arrest of former Ministers Juan Alberto Fuentes Knight (Finance), Salvador Gandara Gaitan (President's Office), Ana Francisca del Rosario Ordoñez (Education), Abraham Valenzuela (Defense), Edgar Alfredo Rodriguez (Labor), Oscar Velasquez (Economy), Celso David Cerezo Mulet (Health), Geronimo Lancerio Chingo (Culture) and Luis Alberto Ferrate (Environment).

The Transurbano is a public transport organization in Guatemala City run by the Guatemalan Integrated Bus System and promoted by the Guatemalan government during the 2008-2012 Colom administration, and by the Urban Bus Entrepreneurs Association. Travel is paid with a charge card.

The authorities have not yet provided further details about the case, nor the specific crimes those under arrest are accused of committing.

A typical case is Fuentes Knight, the president of Oxfam International, who is accused of taking part in the Transurbano corruption scheme when he was finance minister during the Alvaro Colom government. The Transurbano was a model of urban transport implemented during the administration of Colom's National Unity of Hope (UNE) party.

Upon arriving at court, Fuentes Knight said that when he left office he asked for an investigation into the supposed "anomalies" that began to appear, associated with the company operating the transport service.

"When I resigned, I asked for an investigation and that no further funds be forwarded to Transurbano. Naturally, the Comptroller's Office had no information on the matter," something Fuentes Knight said he didn't report because he himself didn't have sufficient information at the time.