Sunday, April 14, 2024
Sunday, April 14, 2024
Sunday, April 14, 2024

Journalist in Guatemala Receives 6-Year Prison Sentence for Money Laundering

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A prominent journalist in Guatemala, Jose Zamora, known for his critical coverage of successive governments, was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of money laundering, Your Content has learned.

The verdict, denounced by human rights organizations as an assault on freedom of speech, was delivered by a Guatemalan court on Wednesday.

In addition to the prison term, Zamora was fined 300,000 quetzals ($38,339).

Notably, he was cleared of allegations of blackmail and influence peddling.

Zamora, 66, has vehemently proclaimed his innocence, describing the case against him as a “politically motivated persecution” orchestrated by President Alejandro Giammattei.

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Zamora’s journalistic endeavors at elPeriodico, his newspaper, involved investigating and reporting on alleged corruption involving the president and his close allies.

Unfortunately, elPeriodico ceased operations in May.

Having founded elPeriodico in 1996, Zamora’s arrest occurred in July of the previous year during a broader crackdown targeting prosecutors, judges, human rights activists, journalists, and opposition officials.

According to the attorney general’s office, Zamora allegedly received irregular payments totaling $38,461 to finance his media outlet, which were not regularly deposited into the banking system.

The legal proceedings surrounding the case progressed swiftly, consisting of 11 hearings that excluded the defendant’s evidence and witnessed eight changes of defense attorneys.

Some of the former attorneys are now facing their own legal consequences for their involvement in Zamora’s defense.

Juanita Goebertus, the Americas director of Human Rights Watch, expressed dismay at the prosecution’s request for an excessively harsh 40-year sentence.

She emphasized that such a demand is entirely disproportionate and illustrates the severity with which journalism is being persecuted in Guatemala.

Additionally, the rights group has raised concerns about the ongoing investigations by the Guatemalan prosecutors’ office into journalists and columnists from elPeriodico who covered Zamora’s case, according U.S. News.

(Note: The exchange rate is $1 = 7.8250 quetzals)

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