A Guatemalan judge has ordered former President Otto Perez Molina back to pre-trial detention after the National Forensic Sciences Institute (Inacif) declared his heart issues could be treated on an outpatient basis.
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Perez Molina has been hospitalized for more than three months in the Military Medical Center in Guatemala City. His lawyer, Cesar Calderon, has argued the former president is in critical condition and could suffer sudden death due to problems with his pacemaker.
But Inacif says Perez Molina’s health won’t suffer if he takes his medication, and Judge Miguel Angel Galvez has ordered his transfer back to the detention center in Mariscal Zavala, where he has been held since 2015.
Inacif Director Fanuel Garcia said: "Every analisys by Inacif shows that Perez Molina has a heart condition that has been already treated. Neither this treatment nor his sickness are recent. That is, it’s exactly the same case as when he was president and the treatment has been given already."
Garcia had already said the former president’s health was good enough to continue court proceedings, but Judge Galvez requested the complete report.
Perez Molina is accused of involvement in several corruption cases, including systematic customs fraud, during his administration. The case, dubbed ‘La Linea’ (The Line) was prosecuted by the Public Ministry and the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
Using health as an excuse to avoid prison has been a common practice in Guatemala’s high politics.
Roxana Baldetti, vice-president during Perez Molina’s administration, has been accused of involvement in the same cases as the former president. She has also presented several appeals to delay hearings and Inacif has examined her medical condition no less than 55 times.
In June, 12 people involved in ‘La Linea’ case were granted subsitute measures: 10 by a deputy judge and two by Galvez.
Perez Molina also asked to be exonerated on humanitarian grounds, but the request was denied by Galvez.