Juan Francisco Sandoval: Juan Francisco Sandoval: "If the president did not ask for my departure, it could cause him great satisfaction" | International

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Last Friday, after knowing his dismissal as head of the Special Prosecutor Against Impunity in Guatemala (FECI), the main body that fought corruption in that Central American country and to which great achievements are attributed, Juan Francisco Sandoval offered an extensive conference press release in which he criticized that his dismissal was illegal and that it was ordered by the attorney general, Consuelo Porras, to protect friends of hers "who could be involved in the investigations." In that appearance, the 39-year-old lawyer attributed his departure to several investigations he directed, which include alleged cases of bribery and corruption, and that affected the Government of President Alejandro Giammattei.

The dismissal of the 39-year-old lawyer with 15 years of experience in the Public Ministry has caused a deep malaise in broad sectors of Guatemalan society, tired of the high levels of corruption and impunity. In addition, it has generated condemnation from the international community. The United States, which this year had decorated Sandoval for his anti-corruption fight, has announced that it was temporarily freezing cooperation with the Guatemalan Public Ministry, alleging that it had lost confidence in the attorney general.

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"There has been a chain of arbitrariness and the common denominator has been the protection of the authorities of the current Government or the previous Government" of Jimmy Morales, Sandoval denounces in a telephone interview with EL PAÍS from a place that he prefers not to reveal. For the former prosecutor, his departure from the FECI was accelerated by some investigations that were approaching Giammattei's circle. Faced with these statements, the president said that he was making the information required to clear up any doubts about his actions at the disposal of the Public Ministry. "Obviously, he cannot appear formally indicating that he had any influence on my dismissal, but informally we know that it has been one of his main requests," says the lawyer.

"So you think that Giammattei asked to leave the FECI?"

– If you did not ask for it directly, I think that when they announced that you would be leaving the Prosecutor's Office, it could have caused you a lot of satisfaction. Although the lawyers' union has long handled the issue that the attorney general was guaranteed her re-election next year if I were removed.

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Despite the fact that in the appearance on Friday, the former prosecutor said that he would remain in the country, that same night he left Guatemala for exile and crossed the border into El Salvador in a car with diplomatic registration, accompanied by the Swedish ambassador, Hans Magnusson. , and the Human Rights Ombudsman, Jordán Rodas, after his collaborators convinced him that it was the best for his safety. "They called me to attention regarding the perverse plans of the attorney general because of the antecedents that other justice operators have against whom they carried out adverse conduct and expedited arrest warrants," he justifies. “It is not that I cannot respond to some indication, the issue is how manipulated justice is and the risk that we would run in a detention center due to the number of people who have been subjected to (some) process by virtue of my actions ”.

Guatemala's attorney general Consuelo Porras in a file photo at an appearance in Guatemala City.JOHAN ORDONEZ / AFP

Sandoval keeps track of the days since Consuelo Porras came to direct the Public Ministry: three years and two months in which, he says, his team had to work in an environment of intimidation and was handcuffed because processes were slowed down or streamlined. to the interests of the attorney general. In addition, it denounces that with it "the Public Ministry has become an institution allied with the corruption scheme."

Porras, for his part, has justified the ex-prosecutor's departure by accusing him of exercising selective justice and with an ideological bias. “It was never ideological to persecute corrupt politicians like former President Otto Pérez Molina or former Vice President Roxana Baldetti. In fact, the same attorney general highlighted our achievements every year, ”he says. A week after his dismissal, Sandoval says he feels "very tired", trying to assimilate what he has lived and planning his future in exile, but also "moved" by the solidarity of the Guatemalans who this Thursday took to the streets of the Central American country to protest against corruption and demand the resignation of Giammattei and Porras. For him, these demonstrations are a symbol that citizens are becoming aware of their power and that they can push the country "towards a true democracy."

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