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Guatemala court blocks president's expulsion of UN team

AP  |  Guatemala City 

Guatemala's highest court issued a ruling Wednesday blocking Jimmy Morales' decision to unilaterally end a UN commission.

The commission, known by its Spanish initials as CICIG, has angered Morales by investigating him, his sons and his brother on accusations of corruption, which they deny.

Guatemala's overruled Morales' decision after all-night deliberations on five appeals against the president's cancellation of the agreement with the

Hours later, Guatemala's announced that it would let a petition by a group of lawyers to strip the justices of their immunity from prosecution advance to the nation's congress.

said late Wednesday the lawyers were accusing the constitutional justices of interfering in the president's foreign policy decisions.

The congress has the power to lift the justices' immunity and Morales and his allies control a majority of the votes.

It was not immediately clear what could happen if the nation's top court was suddenly open to investigation.

Morales has argued the commission had violated Guatemala's sovereignty and violated the rights of suspects.

Given the government's refusal to guarantee the commission's security, the UN has withdrawn the commission's members.

UN said the would not comment on the court's ruling, calling it an "internal legal issue."

And he said managing the commission, including the return of its personnel, is up to its chief,

Dujarric said has made clear that the UN expects to respect its commitment for the commission to continue working until September 2019, and that includes "ensuring the safety and security of all staffers."

The court has tussled with Morales before over the commission, though he has sometimes tried to ignore its rulings. The court has said the commission's mandate is valid through 2019.

Guatemala's human rights prosecutor, Jordan Rodas, said has to obey the new ruling.

"The government is under obligation to comply," said Rodas, who presented one of the appeals to the court.

"If it doesn't obey, that is a whole other matter, and would constitute a coup, because the cornerstone of the rule of law is respect for the judicial branch."

During its 11 years operating in Guatemala, CICIG has pressed corruption cases that have implicated some 680 people, including top elected officials, businesspeople and bureaucrats.

The commission said in November that it has won 310 convictions and broken up 60

The commission participated in investigations that forced former Vice and to step down from office in 2015 to face fraud and corruption charges.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, January 10 2019. 09:36 IST