Guatemalan court sentence Journalist jailed for six years for money laundering Jose Ruben ZamoraRecognized domestically and internationally for its investigations into corruption and strong criticism of the presidential administration Alejandro Giamatel.
“I am innocent. I am still innocent and he is still a thief,” he said. Zamora mention the president at the end of the audience Jamatei.
The verdict comes after several organizations condemn the escalation of authoritarianism in the countryincluding the persecution of journalists and judicial officials, and the exclusion of candidates who do not belong to traditional political forces.
The court also fined him about $38,000 Affect the stability of the national economy and financial system.
It “clearly demonstrates the erosion of free speech in the country and the desperate attempts of the President’s administration to Alejandro Giamatel criminalize journalism,” said Carlos Martinez de la Sernaprogram director Committee to Protect Journalistswhich is a statement.
he Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), headquartered in U.S.described as a shameful sentence Zamora.
at the same time, American Press Association (SIP) (based on Miami) say in Guatemala A “witch hunt of journalists” was launched.
“Now we want the U.S. government to put it on the list Engel (Sanctioning corrupt and undemocratic actors from Central American countries and including Caruccice) because he has been proven corrupt,” the judicial official said.
In his last speech before delivering his sentence, Zamora He reiterated his innocence and the violation of his rights, especially the rights to a defense and due process, as he met with his public defender minutes before the trial began.
The 66-year-old journalist went on trial without the court’s permission to present evidence in his favour. Prosecutors seek 20 years in prisonThe maximum penalty for money laundering, but the court found no aggravating circumstances. He also accused him of racketeering and influence peddling.according to the judge, a crime that was not proven during the trial.
According to the prosecution Zamora he asked his friend Ronald Garcia Navarijo (a former banker accused of corruption) deposited more than $30,000 in cash in the bank.Instead of doing so, he condemned Zamora.
According to the reporter’s defense, the money was the product of a donation, Zamora He didn’t deposit it into his own account to prevent knowing who the donor was because of government pressure on his media, newspaper.
At the end of the hearing, the prosecutor was visibly upset and raised his voice Rafael Kurucicprincipal Guatemala’s special prosecutor’s office to fight impunity (FECI) who sues ZamoraHe said he would uphold the 40-year sentence for all offenses and expected to appeal the sentence.
Caruccice He added that the verdict was compensation for all those “discredited” in the People’s Daily publication. Zamora and newspaper. The store closed on May 15. under political and financial pressure.
beside Zamora Former prosecutor also on trial Samari Gomezthe prosecution charged with Zamora Influence peddling. gomez She was cleared of all charges and released immediately.
family Zamora has said that what led to his imprisonment was the publication of a case dubbed the “Russia conspiracy,” under which the president Jamatei He could have taken bribes from Russian businessmen to benefit them in exchange for concessions on big projects.
National and international organizations that defend journalism and human rights accuse the case of targeting Zamora is a criminalization of journalism Guatemala and demanded his release.
Zamora He has received such Mary Moores Cabot from Columbia Universityhe International Press Freedom Award and World Press Freedom Hero Award of School of International Journalism.