HomeNewsBriefJudge in Guatemala Corruption Case Charged with Taking Bribes
BRIEF

Judge in Guatemala Corruption Case Charged with Taking Bribes

GUATEMALA / 9 DEC 2015 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

Guatemalan authorities have charged a judge with accepting bribes in a major customs fraud case, an indication of the challenges that lie ahead for Guatemala's justice system, as the courts prepare to process several huge corruption investigations. 

In April, Judge Marta Josefina Sierra de Stalling sent sixteen defendents to jail for pre-trial detention, in connection to their alleged involvement in the massive customs fraud scheme known as "La Linea." This customs fraud scandal later resulted in the downfall of Guatemala's president and vice president, who helped run the criminal network.

In May, however, the United Nation's International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) accused Sierra de Stalling of taking bribes from lawyers representing six of the defendants, in exchange for Sierra sentencing their clients to house arrest rather than remaining in prison. According to El Periodico, Sierra de Stalling's son, Roberto, allegedly served as the middleman between Sierra de Stalling and the attorneys.

After reviewing intercepted telephone conversations and other information compiled by investigators, Guatemala's Attorney General's Office says it now has sufficient evidence to formally charge Sierra de Stalling with malfeasance and corruption. 

Throughout the investigation, Sierra de Stalling herself had been jailed and then granted house arrest, but she was ordered back to prison earlier this week.

InSight Crime Analysis

Like the indictments of those involved in the La Linea scandal, the leveling of formal charges against Sierra de Stalling is more evidence of the Guatemalan justice system's growing ability to build cases against corrupt officials. On the other hand, Sierra de Stalling's alleged actions also highlight how easily investigative work by prosecutors and police can be undermined by corrupt judges in a courtroom. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Judicial Reform

Previous CICIG investigations have uncovered other networks of corrupt lawyers and judges who, as in Sierra's case, will swap bribes in exchange for favorable rulings. The attorneys of such firms -- which the CICIG nicknamed "law firms of impunity" -- will connect their clients with corrupt judges, who provide defendants with preferential treatment in exchange for bribes.

It is encouraging that prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office, with help from CICIG, were able to put together the evidence needed to bring formal charges against Sierra de Stalling. But it's also safe to say that reformers have a long road ahead of them, in terms of ensuring that other top cases aren't derailed by corruption in the courtroom. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

GUATEMALA / 7 FEB 2022

In this run-down neighborhood in Guatemala City, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) does not exist. And yet, there are still a…

EXTRADITION / 8 AUG 2022

A US request has led Guatemala to dismantle a prolific human smuggling ring that smuggled migrants to the United States.

GUATEMALA / 10 AUG 2022

Authorities in Guatemala have dismantled several human trafficking networks in a series of coordinated operations, shedding light on…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…