(CNN Spanish) — A Guatemalan court ordered this Thursday that businessman and journalist José Rubén Zamora Marroquín face trial for the alleged crimes of money and asset laundering, blackmail and influence peddling.
Zamora is president of the newspaper The newspaper.
The judge hearing the case, Fredy Orellana, considered that the Public Ministry provided consistent elements that must be debated in a trial.
“I already expected a ruling like this, it was already written,” Zamora told reporters after learning of the ruling.
The judge questioned whether Zamora’s defense changed the version about the origin of some US$38,000. “In the first statement they said that this money had been donated by two honorable people and now they say that it is the product of a promise to buy and sell a work of art. What is the truth?” Orellana said.
The journalist told the press that, just as he protected his sources, he had to protect those who supported him with resources.
The court scheduled for Tuesday, December 13, the hearing to offer evidence that will be assessed in the trial, in which it will be decided whether Zamora is guilty or innocent of the three crimes he is accused of.
The same judge on Thursday handed down a six-year prison sentence for money and asset laundering against Flora Emilza Silva Flores, former financial director of The newspaper. However, because she accepted responsibility through a special admission of charges procedure, the court reduced her sentence to three years. In addition, he was granted probation for two years, during which time Silva must not commit any other crimes.
Judge Orellana also fined her a little more than US$38,000 and ordered her to pay US$3,800 in reparation to the State of Guatemala. “I only followed Mr. Zamora’s orders,” Silva said before the judge.
Following Silva’s decision to accept the charges, Zamora said he supports that decision. “It’s a scoundrel what they did to her. She is sick and I understand what she did,” he told CNN.
According to Zamora, this will not affect the criminal proceedings against him.