US freezes assets of Guatemalan politician accused in murder

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GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned a Guatemalan lawmaker accused of orchestrating the murder of two journalists in 2015.

The Treasury announced the sanctions against deputy Julio Antonio Juarez Ramirez and 12 other international figures under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which targets human rights abusers and corrupt officials.

Guatemalan prosecutors and the United Nations' anti-corruption mission in the country have accused Juarez of hiring hit men to kill journalist Danilo Efrain Zapon Lopez. Juarez was allegedly worried that Zapon's coverage would hurt his bid for re-election.

The March 2015 attack also killed journalist Federico Benjamin Salazar Geronimo and wounded Marvin Israel Tunchez Ayala.

Juarez was stripped of his immunity, but has maintained his innocence. The action Thursday freezes all assets in the United States of those named.

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