BELIZE CITY, Mon. Sept. 2, 2019– The former Guatemalan presidential candidate, Sandra Torres, 63, who won the first round in the 2019 Guatemalan presidential election in June but lost in the second round three weeks ago to Alejandro Gammattei, was arrested today, Monday, at her home near Guatemala City.
Torres, a former Guatemalan first lady, was arrested on the eve of the departure of the United Nations anti-corruption unit which initiated the investigation against her, Aljazeera Latin America reported today.
Torres, who is a sister of Belize’s People’s United Party communications director, Nardia Garcia, was married to President Álvaro Colom, who presided over Guatemala from 2008 to 2012. Torres divorced Colom after she decided to run for the presidency, since she was previously prevented from running because of a Guatemalan law which prohibits close relatives of a president from running for the office. Torres made three runs for the presidency, but lost each time.
Torres is accused of unregistered campaign financing and unlawful association. The charges stem from the 2015 presidential race between her and the outgoing Guatemalan president, Jimmy Morales. A judge has ordered Torres to be held in pre-trial detention until Friday, when a hearing is scheduled.
Torres and three of her National Unity of Hope (UNE) party members are accused of failing to report 3.6 million dollars in campaign financing.
Torres described the arrest as being politically motivated.
The public prosecutors reportedly filed the case against Torres shortly after she registered as a candidate, but the case could not go forward while she was a candidate.
A judge signed the arrest warrant for Torres and this morning, prosecutors and police executed the arrest at her home in Guatemala City.
The investigation into Torres and her party was carried out by the Office of the Special Prosecutor Against Impunity, FECI, and the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which also investigated President Morales and his governing FCN party.
Shortly after their investigation began, however, President Morales took action against CICIG by not renewing its commission.
Morales, who is immune from prosecution while he is president, has denied the allegations against him.