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GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina said Thursday that he was not involved in corruption scandals that led the country's Supreme Court to green-light a process that could remove the president's immunity from prosecution.
Facing potential impeachment if Congress elects to pursue an inquiry, Perez Molina denied any responsibility for the graft cases that have taken down top officials, including the vice president and interior minister.
"I feel at peace, I have committed no crimes in relation to these cases," the president said at a news conference. He has vowed he will serve out the rest of his term, which ends in early 2016.
The court made its ruling the previous day based on a request by an opposition lawmaker who alleged Perez Molina was involved in the corruption scandals. The president has not been accused of any crime, but many Guatemalans blame him for the graft since it involved his administration.
The Central American nation has seen large protests in recent weeks in response to the scandals, one of them an alleged customs scheme in which businesses paid millions of dollars in bribes to avoid import duties.
In the other, officials at the Social Security Institute are suspected of taking kickbacks to award a $15 million kidney treatment contract to a company that was not licensed to perform the service; 13 patients subsequently died, although so far the probe has not extended to possible criminal liability for the deaths.