Guatemala seeks arrest of former attorney general Thelma Aldana

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Guatemalan Attorney General Thelma Aldana in a news conference in Guatemala City, August 28, 2017Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Thelma Aldana has worked closely with a UN-backed anti-corruption body

A judge in Guatemala has issued an arrest warrant for the country's former attorney general, Thelma Aldana, who is a current presidential candidate.

Ms Aldana, 63, who is currently out of the country, is wanted on charges of embezzlement, lying and tax fraud. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Ms Aldana has worked closely with a UN-backed anti-corruption commission to try to impeach President Jimmy Morales.

Guatemala said last month it was withdrawing from the commission.

Mr Morales initially supported the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) when he was elected three years ago.

The mandate of the UN-backed body has helped prosecutors bring cases against dozens of senior officials and executives.

But when Mr Morales became the subject of investigations by the commission into campaign financing, the president said he would review its mandate.

Ms Aldana was Guatemala's most senior prosecutor from 2014 to 2018. During that time she prosecuted and jailed the former president Otto Perez Molina, as well as other politicians, on corruption charges.

The warrant for her arrest was issued by Judge Victor Cruz on Tuesday - the same day she was registered as a presidential candidate. It relates to a corruption inquiry involving illegal hiring, a Supreme Court official said.

Police spokesman Jorge Aguilar said Ms Aldana was "currently travelling".

"There is a migratory alert out because we know she is not in the country," he said.

The CICIG had sought to prosecute Mr Morales, who was a comedian before becoming president in 2016, over allegations of funding irregularities linked to his 2015 election campaign.

The UN backed calls for the removal of his immunity in order to allow him to be investigated. That move followed separate CICIG investigations into members of the president's family.