Roxana Baldetti was sentenced to three months preventive detention after being formally charged with illicit association, customs fraud and bribery.
Baldetti was sentenced for her involvement in “La Línea” or “The Line”, a huge customs fraud network jointly run with President Otto Pérez Molina.
The 54-year-old is accused of accepting around $3.7 million in bribes.
Juez ordena prisión preventiva para Roxana Baldetti. Da plazo de 3 días a Sistema Penitenciario para realizar traslado a cárcel Santa Teresa
— Organismo Judicial (@OJGuatemala) August 26, 2015
“Judge orders preventive sentence for Roxana Baldetti. In three days she will be transferred to the Santa Teresa (women’s) prison.” Guatemala’s judicial body tweeted.
Key evidence presented in court was played in the form of recordings, in which Pérez Molina rebukes the former head of Guatemala’s Tax Administration, Carlos Muñoz, for delaying his replacement of the agency’s director of human resources.
Muñoz was later revealed as one of the key players in the customs scam.
Baldetti is known for being overtly dramatic, and was seen scribbling down the Lord’s prayer during the trial.
The ex-vicepresident’s sentencing was partly due to her holding an Italian passport.
“There is a danger that of flight, obstructing ascertainment of the truth,” the judge ruled.
Is time running out for Pérez?
The clock could also be ticking for Otto Pérez, despite repeatedly voicing that he will not resign.
But despite impeachment a looming threat, there is no actual guarantee that Pérez will end up in prison – taking into account the lengthy trial against ex-dictator Ríos Montt as a starting point.
For now though, Baldetti is just beginning what looks set to be one of the biggest legal proceedings in Guatemalan history.