July 20, 2018
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Guatemala revokes visa of head of UN-backed anti-corruption body

Guatemala City, Oct 10 (efe-epa).- Guatemala's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday revoked the visa of the head of the United Nations-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Cicig), citing irregularities in the application process.

The visa issued to Colombian Ivan Velasquez on Oct. 2 was not requested via the proper channels, the ministry said in a letter to a Cicig official, adding that Guatemalan immigration officials had been notified of the situation.

A new visa must be solicited using the appropriate channels and adhering to the necessary formalities, the text dated Oct. 9 read.

The Directorate-General for Migration (DGM) said Velasquez's visa was due to expire on Oct. 18 and that he had until then to regularize his immigration status and retain his ability to work in the Central American country, while Velazquez said Tuesday that he had already applied for a new visa.

"On Monday, I received notification that (the visa) had been revoked because it had not been properly applied for or because the proper channels had not been used," he told reporters.

The decision comes after Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, a former comedian who rose to power on an anti-corruption platform, sought in late August to expel Velasquez from the country for allegedly exceeding his mandate.

The Constitutional Court, however, immediately suspended that expulsion order, which Morales issued after the Cicig had accused the president of failure to report anonymous campaign contributions and said it would move to strip him of his immunity from prosecution.

The Cicig, whose objectives include probing the existence of illicit security forces and clandestine organizations that commit crimes affecting the basic rights of citizens, has dismantled nearly a dozen criminal structures in Guatemala since April 2015.

Former President Otto Perez Molina and erstwhile Vice President Roxana Baldetti have been jailed pending trial for purportedly co-directing one of those structures, a customs-fraud scheme known as "La Linea" in which importers allegedly bribed government officials in exchange for substantially reduced tariffs.

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