Former Guatemalan president faces fraud charges

Judge ordered former Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina to face trial on fraud charges

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Guatemala's President Otto Perez Molina attends a hearing at the Supreme Court of Justice in Guatemala City

A Guatemalan judge on Tuesday ordered fallen former president Otto Perez Molina to stand trial on charges of criminal association, taking bribes and customs fraud, amid a graft scandal that stoked a political crisis as the country headed into a presidential election.

Perez, a 64-year-old retired general who was elected in late 2011 on a vow to fight crime and corruption, resigned as president last week and was held in jail pending a hearing into accusations he made millions of dollars from a customs racket.

Comic actor Jimmy Morales rode a wave of outrage over the scandal to win the most votes in Guatemala's presidential election on Sunday, and is seen as having a strong chance of winning a runoff next month.

Demonstrators waving Guatemalan national flags and holding effigies representing Guatemala's President Perez Molina and former Vice President Baldetti, during a protest against Perez in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

It remains unclear whether he will face a former first lady or conservative businessman, who remain neck and neck as the count from Sunday's vote continues.

Congress has sworn in the vice president of Perez , Alejandro Maldonado, to fill out his term until power is handed over to the eventual winner in January.