Guatemala Court Suspends Appointment of Judges

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (AFP) — Guatemala’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday suspended the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court amid concerns over influence peddling.

Prosecutors obtained a court ruling halting the election process for 26 candidates to the Supreme Court and another 270 to appeals courts.

Judges at the Central American country’s top courts are elected for four-year terms by the Congress.

Guatemala’s President-elect Alejandro Giammattei gives an interview in Guatemala City on Aug. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)

The Constitutional Court said in a statement that its ruling “temporarily suspends the act of election that would be carried out by the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala.”

Prosecutors cited meetings that several candidate judges had with a businessman who is being held on corruption charges.

The businessman, Gustavo Alejos, has been serving pre-trial detention at a hospital where the meetings took place.

Prosecutors suspect the aim of the meetings, which also included lawmakers, was to manipulate the election of the judges.

Spokeswoman Julia Barrera said the process of selecting judges did not comply with the requirements of “ability, suitability, honesty and integrity”.

Lawmakers have to elect 13 new judges to the Supreme Court, and 135 judges for the country’s appeals courts as well as 90 alternates.

Several international organizations, including the Washington Office for Latin America, had questioned the process and urged reform to avoid influence-peddling.

© Agence France-Presse

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