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Odebrecht Case in Guatemala Implicates Colombia’s Minister of Defense

Guatemala adelantará acciones legales contra ministro de Defensa de Colombia, EFE

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The Public Prosecutor’s Office of Guatemala assured Monday that it will take legal action against Iván Velásquez, Minister of Defense of Colombia, for his performance as head of the International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG).

The accusation against Minister Velásquez was made by Guatemalan prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche in the corruption case linked to the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, for which three new arrest warrants were requested today against former officials of the Attorney General’s Office and the CICIG.

“The Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity will take legal action to hold former CICIG commissioner Ivan Velasquez accountable for his illegal and abusive actions,” Curruchiche said during an official message.

Curruchiche also issued the same warning to Colombian lawyer Luz Camargo Garzón, who served as an investigator of corruption structures in Guatemala.

Velásquez is accused of allowing the approval of cooperation agreements, according to Curruchiche anomalous, with two Brazilian executives of the construction company Odebrecht in 2017.

The 67-year-old Colombian was head of CICIG in Guatemala between 2013 and 2017, a period during which dozens of corruption structures operating within government institutions were dismantled.

In 2022, Curruchiche annulled the testimonies that Brazilian businessmen had given in 2017, where they accused former communications minister Alejandro Sinibaldi and former presidential candidate Manuel Baldizón of receiving bribes from Odebrecht equivalent to US$18 million in exchange for granting projects to the construction company.

On January 12, the U.S. organization Human Right Watch released a report accusing the government headed by Alejandro Giammattei of “deepening the deterioration of democracy and impeding accountability for widespread corruption.”