January 26, 2018 / 4:59 PM / 3 years ago

Former Guatemala defense minister arrested on corruption charges

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - A former Guatemalan general was arrested on corruption charges relating to a special bonus paid to President Jimmy Morales by the defense ministry, prosecutors said on Friday.

William Mansilla, who was minister of defense, left the government in September 2017 just after the payment came to light.

Since December 2016, the defense department paid President Morales around $7,300 a month, on top of his regular salary, in what was called a “Bonus for Extraordinary Responsibility.”

Former comedian Morales, who came to power on an anti-corruption platform, has been under pressure amid allegations that include illegal election campaign financing.

Guatemala’s federal prosecutors and the United Nations-backed commission against impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) had pushed to revoke immunity for Morales after his salary bonus became known.

Morales denied that the payment was illegal but later returned some $60,000.

Mansilla was arrested on charges of abuse of authority, illegal enrichment and embezzlement, prosecutors said Friday.

“In time, I will be able to give evidence and confront the legal cases that are coming,” Mansilla told journalists as he walked into the courtroom.

Guatemala’s government did not respond to requests for comment on the case.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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