To’safeguard his life,’ an anti-graft investigator flees Guatemala.
Juan Francisco Sandoval, Guatemala’s top anti-corruption investigator, fled the country on Saturday to “protect his life,” a human rights official claimed, hours after he was fired in a move that sparked international outrage.
According to the Central American country’s human rights office, Guatemalan Ombudsman Jordan Rodas escorted Sandoval to the Salvadoran border “in light of the tough decision to leave the country to preserve his life and integrity due to recent occurrences.”
Sandoval said he faced numerous challenges in his job at FECI, including being advised not to probe President Alejandro Giammattei without the approval of the attorney general, claiming that this request went against FECI’s “autonomy and independence.”
According to the Attorney General’s Office, Porras was fired because of “continuous abuses and numerous infractions” of the institution, as well as attempts to “undermine” his “work, honesty, and dignity.”
His dismissal drew condemnation from the US State Department, which dubbed him a “anti-corruption champion,” as well as protests from humanitarian organizations, civic society, and companies.
Julie Chung, the US State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs’ Acting Assistant Secretary, denounced Sandoval’s dismissal in a tweet on Friday, calling it “a huge setback to rule of law.”
She went on to say, “It leads to notions of a systemic effort to undermine people who are known to be battling corruption.”
Porras’ decision was also criticized by the Center against Corruption and Impunity in Northern Central America (CCINOC), which said it would result in “setbacks in the battle against corruption in the area.”
After being singled out by both entities for electoral corruption, FECI was created to work alongside the UN International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) to combat corruption and impunity. However, the body’s work was halted in 2019 due to a decision by then-president Jimmy Morales.