By David Toro Escobar |

Guatemala City, September 19 (EFE) .- The criminal prosecution against the famous journalist José Rubén Zamora Marroquín in Guatemala illustrates a “delicate” country and a judicial system close to being a “game of revenge”, according to the communicator’s lawyer , Christian Ulate.

“Guatemala is going through a delicate stage, we must be careful with justice, we cannot fall into this game of revenge,” the Costa Rican lawyer said in an interview with Efe.

Ulate pointed out that in Guatemala there is persecution against specific targets, such as judges and prosecutors, which is leading the Central American country to an alarming “legal crisis”.

Lawyer Cristhian Ulate (d) during José Rubén Zamora’s last hearing. EFE/Esteban Biba

In the case of Zamora Marroquín, the lawyer also indicated that the evidence presented by the public ministry (deputy, prosecutor’s office) against the journalist is not convincing.

“I want to leave here with my head held high because I am innocent and I have not committed any crime,” were the words Zamora Marroquín expressed to Ulate during one of their meetings in August, according to the account. of the jurist.

The journalist, founder and president of the morning newspaper El Periódico, was arrested on July 29, just five days after strong criticism of Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.

Later, on August 7, Zamora Marroquín was charged with the crimes of money laundering, influence peddling and blackmail by decision of the seventh judge of the Guatemalan judicial body, Fredy Orellana.

refute the evidence

The accusation against the communicator is supported, according to the prosecution, by the testimony of Rónald García Navarijo, a former banker accused of corruption in 2017.

The version of the ex-banker indicates that the journalist would have received around 38,000 dollars and did not want to enter them regularly into the banking system, so he asked García Navarijo for help.

The former banker also said the reporter blackmailed him into agreeing to help launder the money.

According to the Public Ministry, the alleged money laundering crime of Zamora Marroquín was committed on July 19 of this year, 10 days before his capture.

The main piece of evidence that the Prosecutor presented to Judge Orellana in August was a series of tapes of García Navarijo during a meeting with Zamora.

“En ningún momento se escucha en los audios a José Rubén Zamora decir que ese dinero provenía de ilícitos y que necesitaba lavarlo”, aseguró a Efe Ulate, quien cuestiona también la validate jurídica de las grabaciones por las condiciones bajo las que fueron obtentionidas por el Public minister.

The other piece of evidence presented by the prosecution against the president of El Periódico is a bundle of money with the 38,000 dollars in question (300,000 quetzales in local currency) that Zamora Marroquín allegedly gave to García Navarijo.

Ulate regretted that said bundles of invoices were presented at the hearing without the bank seals that they originally had when in the possession of Zamora Marroquín, and that in his opinion they were essential to verify that the money has a legal origin.

“What happened to these banking quarters? Who took them away? Did the same prosecutor’s office take them away? We made a request to the prosecution and they told us that for them the bank seals were not relevant evidence for the case,” Ulate said.

The lawyer also claimed that the bank seals were essential to verify who was the businessman who gave the money to the journalist.

Likewise, Ulate indicated that at the right time, precisely the businessman who gave the money to the journalist could testify in his favor and explain that the amount was given voluntarily to help alleviate the financial problems of El Periodico.

Guatemalan journalist José Rubén Zamora, in a file photo. EFE/Esteban Biba

Journalist’s health

Zamora Marroquín, who turned 66 last August in prison, is in stable health, although during his first days in pre-trial detention he had problems with hypertension, Ulate said.

The journalist is cut off from all communication with the El Periódico team to avoid any interference in the ongoing investigation against him.

The communicator is in prison inside the military barracks of Mariscal Zavala, in the northeast of Guatemala City, with 200 high-level prisoners, many of whom have been denounced in the pages of El Periódico.

Ulate hopes that Guatemala will not fall into a game of legal revenge. “I hope that is not the case and that Mr. José Ruben can prove before objective and impartial judges that the evidence of the deputy is not even enough to bring him to justice”, he concluded.

In December, Judge Fredy Orellana will decide whether the evidence presented by the prosecution is sufficient or not to send the journalist to justice.

Web editor: Natalia Sarmiento

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