The newspaper the newspaper reported this Monday, August 1, that its bank accounts “were embargoed at the request of the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (Feci)”, after the arrest of the president of the media, Jose Ruben Zamora.
“With the sole intention of paralyze finances said means of communication, avoiding being able to comply with its Laboral obligations as contractual”, said elPeriódico.
“This action surprises us greatly by virtue of the statements made by the Prosecutor Curruchiche that the persecution of our president Jose Ruben Zamora Marroquin It is solely in his capacity as entrepreneur and no journalist”, adds the publication of elPeriódico.
Gerson Ortiz, editor of elPeriódico, said that the action against the newspaper is against the declarations of the Feciwhose boss, Rafael Curruchiche indicated that it was a process that was not related to journalistic work.
“This shows that it is a lie or not entirely true what the fiscal Rafael Curruchiche said on Friday, that the process against Jose Ruben Zamora is not related to journalistic workbecause if that is so, what would be the reason for garnish accounts of a medium that need financial flow to go out every day and survive?” said Ortiz.
“Over the weekend they froze the newspaper’s accounts. So they are also hanging us financially,” he told AFP. Ramón Zamora, son of the journalist, during a demonstration of dozens of people in rejection of the arrest of his father, held in front of the courts in the center of Guatemala City.
El Periódico in a statement stated that “the bank accounts (…) were seized at the request” of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI), entity that directs the investigations against Zamora, with “the sole intention of paralyzing the finances” of the media.
Edie Cux, director of Citizen Action, pointed out on his Twitter account that “the bank accounts of the media cannot be seized”, because article 35 of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala and the Law on the Emission of Thought “guarantee the functioning and operation of the media. This is a guarantee of democratic states, Guatemala violates it”.
Rafael Curruchiche, head of the FECI, declared that Zamora is suspected of money laundering and that the process, under reservation, is in “the capacity of a businessman” and not as a journalist, This statement is rejected by the press union and elPeriódico.
The rejection of these statements was fueled by the blocking of bank accounts.
Curruchiche, appointed a year ago by Porras, was recently included by the United States in a list of people “corrupt and undemocratic”, or Engel List, in which the attorney general already appeared. The official is accused of directing investigations for spurious accusations against former anti-mafia prosecutors.
For his part, the MP explained that the freezing of elPeriódico accounts it was done based on the Law against Money Laundering or other Assets and that this action was decreed by a comptroller judge.
“The precautionary measures of account immobilization were carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Law against Money Laundering or other Assets and in the context of the case, since there are indications that said accounts could have been used to commit illicit acts”, refers the MP.
It adds that “these measures were decreed by the comptroller judge, so any of the interested parties can make use of the mechanisms that the law establishes in the event of any disagreement,” concluded the Prosecutor’s Office.
For this Monday, August 1, the first statement hearing was scheduled but it was not celebrated because the file had not been transferred of Duty Court al Seventh Courtwhere the case will be heard.
Jordan Rodashead of the Human Rights Ombudsmanindicated that they intervened two self exhibition resources in favour of Zamorabecause he had not been transferred to Court Tower for the hearing.
Closing of the newspaper
The Press Freedom Commission of the Association of Journalists of Guatemala (APG) They condemned the seizure of the bank accounts of elPeriódico, “because the measure requested by Rafael Curruchiche, head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI), shows that the action of the Public Ministry (MP), is aimed at forcing the closure of the media and not investigating alleged crimes committed by its president, as was said from the beginning of the raids.”
“This measure would affect the commercial and labor commitments with its journalists and other employees, in addition to pcould make it impossible to print and circulate its printed version, which are precisely the limitations that are sought to be imposed on the newspaper with the intention of suffocating it economically, given its critical role in the face of corruption,” the APG added in a statement.
It adds that “the APG considers that these tactics, which are typical of a dictatorship, seek to eliminate the independent press by fabricating criminal cases, leading to prison sentences for journalists, directors and media owners; financial drowning, through the freezing of accounts, the imposition of exorbitant fines, the creation of laws that penalize international financing or the pressure for advertisers to withdraw from the media”.
He also adds that “we take advantage of the moment to call on all sectors of the country to close ranks against the criminalization, persecution and repression of critical voices, which is affecting not only the press, but also justice operators and human rights defenders.”