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Guatemala: Amnesty International again condemns an unjustified delay in the trial of prisoner of conscience Virginia Laparra

Following the suspension of the hearing scheduled for today, May 6, and the resulting further delay in the start of the criminal trial against former prosecutor Virginia Laparra Rivas, Ana Piquer, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

“Virginia Laparra has been defending herself in this baseless criminal case for six years, despite constant attacks. It is absolutely unacceptable that the authorities continue to allow further unjustified delays and violations of her human rights.”

Virginia Laparra has been defending herself in this baseless criminal case for six years, despite constant attacks. It is absolutely unacceptable that the authorities continue to allow further unjustified delays and violations of its human rights.

Ana Piquer, Americas Director at Amnesty International

Virginia Laparra, wrongly accused of disclosing confidential information, appeared in court in Quetzaltenango this morning for the opening of her trial. However, the lawyer for one of the sticky claimants (private prosecutors) did not show up and the judge moved the hearing to Monday, May 27.

Amnesty International has condemned the legal harassment of the former prosecutor and documented numerous irregularities and violations of her human rights in the two criminal cases against her. The two cases stem from two complaints filed by the same Quetzaltenango judge, who is accused of alleged corruption, after Virginia Laparra indicted him in the exercise of her duties. The first trial, which did not respect fair trial guarantees, ended in December 2022 with a four-year prison sentence for the former prosecutor.

This second case started in 2018. According to the information received, the trial was scheduled to begin in April 2023, but this was delayed by multiple lawsuits filed by the suing plaintiffs in the proceedings and admitted by the authorities responsible for the case.

Amnesty International believes that Virginia Laparra is being prosecuted solely for her anti-corruption work, and for this reason she was declared a prisoner of conscience in November 2022. The organization also claims that the former prosecutor, who was released from prison on January 3, 2024, is still a prisoner of conscience as she continues to be held under house arrest as an alternative to prison, having served approximately half of her prison sentence served four years for which she was wrongly convicted in December 2022.

“Guatemalan authorities have an obligation to take into account the context of the criminalization of the former prosecutor and take corrective action against any attempted malicious or delaying tactics by the parties. The Guatemalan authorities must urgently act in good faith and ensure all guarantees of a fair trial for Virginia Laparra. The baseless criminal charges against her must stop immediately,” Ana Piquer added.

Guatemalan authorities have an obligation to take into account the context of the criminalization of the former prosecutor and take corrective action against any attempted malicious or delaying tactics by the parties.

Ana Piquer, Americas Director at Amnesty International

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