Guatemala: Antigua ex-mayor among 11 arrested in graft case

The former mayor of the popular tourist city of Antigua and 10 other officials and private citizens were arrested Thursday in a case of alleged corruption, Guatemalan authorities announced.

Edgar Francisco Ruiz Paredes, who was mayor until his term ended Jan. 14, and the other suspects were detained on suspicion of "presumed acts of corruption," illicit association, extortion and embezzlement, the prosecutors' office said.

Amanda Santizo, Ruiz Paredes' lawyer, argued that her client had been detained illegally and without due process. She had not yet seen the case file and did not comment on the accusations.

The prosecutors' office alleged that city officials including the ex-mayor conspired to favor the awarding of contracts to family and friends of another former mayor, who has been in jail for over a year.

They also alleged that Ruiz Paredes allowed municipal funds to be embezzled by modifying security-camera contracts in Antigua to benefit businesses that had paid commissions.

Ruiz Paredes was taken before a court for a judge to determine his status.

A U.N. commission on corruption and criminal networks in Guatemala was involved in the Antigua investigation.

The commission also played a key role in a graft probe that forced former President Otto Perez Molina and his then-vice president to resign last year. Both are in jail awaiting prosecution.