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PRESS RELEASE 021

5 YEARS AND 3 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR RETIRED MILITARY OFFICIALS

Guatemala, 5 June 2014. The Second Trial Court sentenced the retired military officials Jacobo Esdras Salán Sánchez and Napoleón Rojas Méndez to 5 years and 3 months in prison, on the charge of complicity in acts of embezzlement, after finding them guilty of participating in the transportation of GTQ 30 million to the National Mortgage Credit Bank (CHN). The funds were part of the GTQ 120 million misappropriated from the Ministry of National Defence in 2001.

Judge Raúl Ramírez Perdomo ordered the arrest of the two individuals and revoked the alternative measured that had granted them their freedom. Salán Sánchez and Rojas Méndez must each pay a fine of GTQ 18,500.00 and all interest accumulated on the GTQ 30 million between 2001 and the date of the final judgement. In addition, they must pay all legal costs. The pair will be banned from holding public office for the duration of their sentence.

The judge admitted the evidence presented by the Public Prosecutor's Office (MP) and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), including: CICIG reports, expert witness opinions, deposit slips demonstrating the deposit of GTQ 30 million at the CHN, and the certificates of the audits of Ministry of National Defence documentation.

Judge Ramírez ordered that the MP continue investigations to identify all the perpetrators of the misappropriation of millions from the Ministry of Defence and stressed that he considered that embezzlement had been committed, but he did not want to cause controversy regarding the judgement issued to acquit former President Alfonso Portillo and two former ministers in this same case.

CICIG acts as a complementary prosecutor in these criminal proceedings.

Background
In February 2001, a series of budget amendments were introduced for the Ministry of National Defence, including amendment 16-2001 (for a total of GTQ 120,000,000), which was passed without any reasonable justification. The investigations established that GTQ 30 million was transported to the National Mortgage Credit Bank (CHN) by retired military officials Jacobo Esdras Salán Sánchez and Napoleón Rojas Méndez.


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  The Republic of Guatemala, a mountainous country that lies in the Central American isthmus, has an estimated population of 13 million people.
  Guatemala won its independence in 1821, following almost three centuries of Spanish colonial rule.
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