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Guatemala's President Ordered Imprisoned During Corruption Investigation

Former Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina was ordered imprisoned for the duration of a three-month investigation into corruption allegations involving the highest levels of the government.

Last updated on September 8, 2015, at 5:47 p.m. ET

Posted on September 3, 2015, at 12:27 a.m. ET

Guatemalan ex-President Otto Perez (L) is taken away under custody at the end of a hearing at the Supreme Court in Guatemala City on Thursday.
Johan Ordonez / AFP / Getty Images

Guatemalan ex-President Otto Perez (L) is taken away under custody at the end of a hearing at the Supreme Court in Guatemala City on Thursday.

Former Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina was ordered imprisoned for the duration of a three-month investigation into corruption allegations that prompted his resignation.

Federal Judge Miguel Angel Galvez said Pérez Molina was being ordered to prison because there is the possibility he could destroy, modify, or fake evidence. The announcement came soon after Galvez ordered Pérez Molina to stand trial in the customs corruption scandal.

The public prosecutor's office had requested that Pérez Molina be jailed for the three months — the maximum they can take to conduct an investigation — because of the possibility that he could flee or destroy evidence. He faces charges of bribery, illicit association, and customs fraud.

Last week, Galvez had previously ordered Pérez Molina jailed during hearings over whether he should stand trial.

#CasoLaLínea Juez declara sin lugar recurso de reposición. Expresidente será trasladado en estos momentos a cárcel del Cuartel de Matamoros

Earlier, Pérez Molina announced his resignation amid a customs growing corruption scandal.

On Wednesday morning, a judge in the country issued an arrest warrant for President Otto Pérez Molina, Guatemala's public prosecutor announced in a tweet.

Fiscal General Thelma Aldana, confirma que la orden de aprehensión del Presidente Otto Pérez Molina, ya fue solicitada.

The developments are the latest in a lengthy corruption scandal involving allegations that officials took bribes in exchange for letting importers skip out on paying duties. Prosecutors and a U.N. commission exposed the alleged corruption, which they say robbed the government of millions of dollars.

Dozens of government officials have already been caught up in the scandal.

A spokesperson for Pérez Molina told the BBC the president would "submit himself to the rule of law."

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina talks to reporters in Zacapa on Aug. 21, 2015.
Handout . / Reuters

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina talks to reporters in Zacapa on Aug. 21, 2015.

Guatemala's congress previously stripped Pérez Molina of his immunity to prosecution and he was ordered not to leave the county.

The vote to strip Pérez Molina of immunity took place last week and paved the way for his arrest. The vote was unanimous and involved members of Pérez Molina's own party voting against him.

Guatemala also has seen ongoing protests for months, with many calling for Pérez Molina to step down.

Demonstrators hold up a sign reading "Reforms Now" during a protest in Guatemala City demanding Perez Molina's resignation, July 25.
Jorge Lopez / Reuters

Demonstrators hold up a sign reading "Reforms Now" during a protest in Guatemala City demanding Perez Molina's resignation, July 25.

The corruption scandal has already landed now-former vice president Roxana Baldetti in jail.

Baldetti stepped down in May and is in jail awaiting trial. Dozens of other officials have been arrested as well.

Baldetti is accused of raking in $3.7 million by taking 50% of the bribes that went to various government officials.

The public prosecutor's office announced on Twitter late Wednesday that the allegations against Pérez Molina are the same as those against Baldetti.

Both Baldetti and Pérez Molina have denied wrongdoing.

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