Local head of Guatemala's anti-corruption prosecutor's office arrested

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GUATEMALA CITY, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The head of a local branch of Guatemala's Special Prosecutor's Office against Impunity (FECI) was arrested on Wednesday over allegations of abuse of authority and other charges, authorities said.

The arrest comes days after a string of resignations and arrests of other anti-corruption officials amid a brewing political crisis.

Lilian Virgina Laparra Rivas, head of the FECI in Quetzaltenango, was arrested for "the possible commission of the crimes of false testimony, abuse of authority and usurpation of functions," according to Juan Luis Pantaleon, spokesman for the Public Ministry.

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The local office of FECI in Quetzaltenango, which is about 200 km (124 miles) west of Guatemala City, was inaugurated by the former International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG) in October of 2016. It was opened to investigate corruption in the area.

The case against Laparra, who had made complaints against a judge, was spurred by a complaint against her, Pantaleon said.

"Possibly she carried out acts on behalf of the Public Ministry, attributing herself as an official to file said complaints," Pantaleon said.

Five members of FECI, headquartered in Guatemala City, resigned from their posts this month, the Public Ministry said on Monday, after two of them publicly denounced what they called unjust prosecution. Another four anti-corruption officials have been arrested in recent weeks. read more

FECI collaborated with the CICIG, a U.N. body that was expelled from Guatemala in 2018, after successfully imprisoning former presidents, officials and businessmen involved in corruption cases.

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Reporting by Sofia Menchu, writing by Cassandra Garrison, editing by Chris Reese

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