Wed | Dec 6, 2023

Police scuffle with electoral court justices in Guatemala as prosecutors seek to seize vote tallies

Published:Saturday | September 30, 2023 | 5:38 PM
Supreme Electoral Tribunal's President Irma Palencia, centre, accompanied by magistrates Ranulfo Rojas, left, and Mynor Franco, pose for photos outside the Constitutional Court building in Guatemala City, Friday, September 29, 2023. The prosecutor's office raided the electoral tribunal for the fourth time on Friday in search of election results records following Bernardo Arévalo's presidential election win. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Policemen shoved and wrestled with justices of Guatemala's top electoral tribunal Saturday, as prosecutors sought to seize the tally sheets of votes from the August presidential elections.

There were harrowing scenes of justices holding tight to boxes, as police tried to wrestle them away as part of raids to investigate spurious claims of voting fraud.

Observers at the time said they saw no evidence of any such fraud, and most in Guatemala see it as an attempt to weaken or disqualify the winning candidate, Bernardo Arévalo.

Seventy-year-old Justice Maynor Franco, wearing a suit and tie, refused to give up his grip on a vote box, even as a much younger agent tried to wrestle it away.

Justice Blanca Alfaro pleaded with officers not to take the boxes, because they represented the will of voters. She was shoved and briefly fell to the floor during the fracas.

Saturday's events came during the latest round of raids by Attorney General Consuelo Porras and prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche, efforts that international groups have said are aimed at overturning or tarnishing the electoral results.

Porras took over as attorney general in 2018 and in 2021 was sanctioned by the US government for being an undemocratic actor and undermining investigations into corruption. She has denied any wrongdoing.

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