- Title: GUATEMALA-CORRUPTION/PEREZ Government judge speaks with President Perez
- Date: 24th August 2015
- Summary: GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA (AUGUST 23, 2015) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF PRESIDENTIAL RESIDENCE POLICE PROTECTING PERIMETER OF RESIDENCE JUDGE SILVIA POCOM ARRIVING AT PRESIDENTIAL RESIDENCE JOURNALISTS INTERVIEWING JUDGE POCOM (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) JUDGE SILVIA POCOM SAYING: "The reason (of her visit) is to find out if he is suffering from some action or threat from anyone and because of the situation that is occurring in our country." JUDGE POCOM ENTERING PRESIDENTIAL RESIDENCE COMPOUND MEMBERS OF MEDIA OUTSIDE MAIN DOOR OF RESIDENCE
- Embargoed: 8th September 2015 13:00
- Location: Guatemala
- Country: Guatemala
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVAAJSWXFKEZBKBWJN9F12ZUCS0G
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A Guatemalan judge visited with President Otto Perez to check on his health and safety Sunday (August 23) as a corruption scandal threatens his presidency.
"The reason (of her visit) is to find out if he is suffering from some action or threat from anyone and because of the situation that is occurring in our country," Judge Silvia Pocom told members of the media as she prepared to enter the presidential residence.
Once inside Judge Pocom asked him a number of questions in what appeared to be a formal but cordial meeting filmed by government television.
The meeting follows a week of roiling political activity culminating in the arrest of Perez's former Vice President Roxana Baldetti Friday (August 21) for her role in the ballooning corruption scandal.
Prosecutors sought to impeach Perez on Friday deepening a government crisis ahead of presidential elections next month.
Perez's conservative administration has spent the past few months mired in public protests and scandals over corruption allegations against senior officials, several of whom the retired general fired during a cabinet purge in May.
Baldetti stepped down in May under pressure over reports that she was involved in the illegal payment of fees to avoid customs duties. Her chief aide, who is also implicated in the scandal, disappeared after joining her on a trip to South Korea in April.
The investigations into graft in the Central American country have been led by a U.N.-backed anti-corruption body known as the CICIG, which has pushed for Perez's impeachment.
Last week, Perez narrowly avoided losing his presidential immunity from prosecution when not enough members of Congress voted to revoke it so he could face investigation over the scandals.
The president has denied any wrongdoing, but his position is in increasing jeopardy after prosecutors said they believed the 64-year-old Perez was in on the scam.
The impeachment bid follows months of corruption allegations against leading officials, which in May prompted Perez to fire several senior cabinet ministers. It also risks throwing the country's upcoming presidential elections into disarray.
Perez, a retired general who took office in 2012, cannot run for re-election by law, and his right-wing Patriot Party is way off the pace ahead of the first round of voting on Sept. 6.
If no candidate wins at least 50 percent of the vote, a second round run-off will be held on Oct. 25, though the new president will not take office until the start of next year.
If the Supreme Court grants Attorney General Thelma Aldana's request and Perez does not step down, Congress must still give its consent for the president to be impeached.
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