Journalist José Zamora, son of the imprisoned director of the Guatemalan newspaper elPeriódico, Rubén Zamora, said Thursday that he has little hope that his father will be released and acquitted of the charges brought against him by the authorities, after the presidential elections scheduled for the 25th June in Guatemala.
Rubén Zamora is accused by the Guatemalan courts of money laundering, blackmail and influence peddling, in a process that in the words of his son and organizations that defend press freedom “is a spurious case that was fabricated in 72 hours and through the which they seek to sentence him” to 40 years, according to the request of the Public Ministry.
He was arrested on July 29, 2022.
“If something works, he should be acquitted and released, but the truth is that there is very little hope. The system is fully co-opted and what is expected on June 14, which is the last hearing, is that they condemn it,” José Zamora told the Voice of America.
The journalist added that if the court and the judges decide to do their job well, adhering to the law, being impartial, what they should do is acquit him and set him free and, at the very least, start the process over again.
“This is totally flawed and is an absolute violation of due process,” said the journalist.
Human rights organizations have requested in July of last year “respect for the guarantees of due process.”
“We demand that their due process guarantees be respected. The Guatemalan Public Ministry cannot abuse the secrecy of criminal proceedings to unduly limit transparency or restrict the right to defense,” said Juan Pappier, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, when the director of elPeriodico was arrested almost a year ago.
The Prosecutor’s Office has been trying to calm things down, indicating that Zamora’s arrest is not “because of his situation as a journalist, but as a businessman.”
A direct blow to the Newspaper,
Zamora’s arrest has had a direct impact on the operation of the newspaper to the point of suspending even its digital edition.
José Zamora told the VOA that the newspaper It had 166 workers before the investigation process against Zamora began, but then it began to create a fiscal fence, attacking and harassing advertisers and anyone who supported or donated to the outlet.
“Thus, elPeriódico was forced to reduce the team from 160 to 30 employees, and in recent months it had to close. On May 15, the last digital issue of the outlet was published and 30 more journalists lost their jobs. I want to emphasize that the entire team of the newspaper are journalists who were completely committed to the country and to doing rigorous and quality journalism to support the strengthening of democracy, and they lost their job unnecessarily,” said José Zamora.