On Thursday, a Guatemalan judge accused of involvement in an influence peddling operation was sworn in to the country’s highest court, just days before the US Vice President’s visit to the nation, which is scheduled to focus on regional anti-corruption measures.
Judge Nester Vasquez took the oath to serve on the five-member Constitutional Court in front of members of Congress who had earlier this week ratified his contentious appointment.
Vasquez’s appointment occurred after an independent anti-corruption prosecutor said in February that his 2014 appointment to a lesser court had been contaminated by illegal influence by officials and lawmakers.
Vasquez has made no public remarks on the accusation and is now immune from prosecution.
In an interview with Reuters published on Wednesday, President Alejandro Giammattei criticized the graft prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, for what he described as politicizing the administration of justice.
Giammattei also defended Vasquez in the interview, arguing that he enjoyed the support of thousands of lawyers who voted for him to be their representative on the Constitutional Court.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is leading Washington’s efforts to tackle the root causes of mass migration from Central America, which includes a major anti-corruption focus along with a possible $4 billion regional aid package.
She is set to arrive in Guatemala on Sunday and meet with Giammattei on Monday.