Former Guatemala president Otto Pérez Molina faces trial over mega corruption

GUATEMALA CITY – Former Guatemala president Otto Pérez Molina will stand trial for his alleged role in a huge corruption scheme involving the country’s customs service, a judge ruled on Saturday.

The scandal that prompted unprecedented mass street protests in Guatemala in 2015 led to resignation and arrest of Molina’s and former vice-president Roxana Baldetti.

They are accused of taking a cut from bribes channelled to officials helping businesses evade customs duties. Both strongly deny the accusations.

The bribery scam has become known as “La Linea” or “The Line”, after the hotline businesses allegedly rang to clear their imports through customs at cut-price rates.

Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez, in Guatemala City, said that Mr Pérez Molina and Ms Baldetti were aware of the irregularities and received millions of dollars in bribes, the BBC reported.

Another 26 people, including former senior officials from Guatemala’s customs duty system, have also been charged and will face trial.

Molina has been charged with racketeering, illicit enrichment and fraud.

He resigned in September 2015, at the end of his four-year term.