UN leader tasked with Guatemala crime woes resigns
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Last Updated: Tuesday, June 08, 2010, 12:37
  
Guatemala City: The chief of a UN commission responsible for battling corruption and crime in Guatemala resigned Monday, accusing the country of failing to keep up its end of the deal and its new attorney general of corruption.

Spaniard Carlos Castresana, a judge by training, said Guatemala did not help the commission with its investigations.

"Nothing that was promised is being done," he told reporters, without offering any specifics. "On a personal level, I feel I cannot do anything more for Guatemala."

Castresana said one reason for the resignation was the appointment of Conrado Reyes as Guatemala's attorney general, accusing him of having a history of ties to organized crime.

Castresana called the nomination the result of a pact among lawyers for criminals who traffic in drugs and illegally adopted children, and he urged President Alvaro Colom to replace Reyes. "He is not the person that Guatemala deserves."

Reyes held a news conference later Monday to deny Castresana's allegations.

"I do not have, nor have I ever had, ties to the people and organizations he claims," Reyes said. "He had plenty of time (during the attorney general nominating process) to present evidence."

Castresana also cited what he called a smear campaign against him following the capture of ex-president Alfonso Portillo on U.S. money-laundering charges in January.

"Marketing professionals" have been spreading rumors about his private life and trying to discredit the commission's work, Castresana said. Last week a local radio program alleged Castresana was romantically involved with a staffer. Castresana did not directly address that Monday, but denied any "improper conduct."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed appreciation for Castresana, saying the Spaniard and his staff "worked courageously for more than 2 1/2 years so that Guatemalans can have a justice system that defends and protects them," the U.N. said.

Ban pledged to appoint a qualified replacement who can build on their progress, U.N. associate spokesman Farhan Haq said in New York. The U.N. chief hopes the policy recommendations by the "ground-breaking initiative" will be implemented soon "and that the government ensures that key positions in the justice sector are filled with qualified candidates," Haq said.

Nearly 2,000 police have been fired and 130 top government officials and others sent to jail since the United Naitons created the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala in 2007.

Castresana said last month that it would take about 10 years to dismantle illegal groups that arose after Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war. The commission's mandate expires in September 2011, and Castresana had asked that it be broadened.

Bureau Report


First Published: Tuesday, June 08, 2010, 12:37


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