Roberto López Villatoro and other two defendants go to trial for the ‘Parallel Commissions’ case

Roberto López Villatoro and other two defendants go to trial for the ‘Parallel Commissions’ case

STATEMENT 107 | Photo: Prensa Libre.

The High-Risk Court “D” Judge, Erika Aifán, sent to trial Attorney Roberto López Villatoro, his sister Clara López Villatoro for active bribery, as well as Magistrate Eddy Orellana Donis for passive bribery and failure to file a financial affidavit.

At the intermediate hearing, the judge considered that the evidence is sufficient to order the three defendants to stand trial for those crimes. During the proceedings, the defendants’ defense presented five dilatory and preemptory defenses to try to stop the trial. However, the judge declared that these defenses were invalid.

The judge confirmed the order for pre-trial detention against the three accused, who had requested alternative measures.

The evidentiary hearing was scheduled for January 3, 2019.

The Case

The investigations revealed a strategy promoted by López Villatoro to intervene in the appointment of the highest authorities of the country’s Judiciary, through a parallel structure to the Judicial Nominating Commissions for the election of the current Supreme Court of Justice and the Courts of Appeals.

This strategy was carried out in complicity with several legislators and commissioners who were members of the Judicial Nominating Commissions in 2014. It was established that Sergio Roberto López Villatoro carried out a strategy to bring together public and private interests and influence some of the commissioners. Thus, he convened, reserved and financed meetings on key dates ─contravening the transparency established by the Nominating Commissions Act─ with members of said Commission to discuss the process of judge election and influence the decision of the commissioners.

Mr. López also coordinated meetings with members of Congress to change their vote and favor his candidates. He invested nearly one million quetzals in campaign events to promote the election of representatives of the Guatemalan Bar Association (Colegio de Abogados de Guatemala, CANG) and other candidates to integrate the Nominating Commissions, and thus have amajority of representatives in his favor.

On January 11, 2017, FECI filed an impeachment request against Eddy Giovanni Orellana Donis, Presiding Judge of the Second Chamber of the Court of Appeals in Civil and Commercial Matters, who was removed from office after being bound over for trial.

CICIG received a complaint about the payments that Sergio López Villatoro made for an apartment in zone 14 of the capital city that was given to magistrate Orellana Donis. After reviewing the information and gathering evidence, it was established that the dates of the payments to the property coincided with those when the 2014 Nominating Commissions made its decisions.

In the case of Clara López Villatoro, she was the legal representative of one of her brother’s companies that issued the checks for the payment of the apartment of magistrate Orellana Donis to influence the Nominating Commissions.