Guatemala election crimes prosecutor on leave due to threats

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GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemala's top prosecutor for electoral crimes has taken temporary leave from his post due to unspecified threats just days before the country holds national elections, authorities announced Wednesday.

Óscar Shaad presented a request for a three-month leave and explained in a letter that he needs "to ensure my family's safety and mine in the face of tangible threats to my person," Chief Prosecutor María Consuelo Porras said.

Rony López of the prosecutors' office said Shaad had been given increased personal security but he continued to be worried about his family.

Shaad's name surfaced recently in a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigation of a Guatemalan politician who at the time was running for president in this coming Sunday's vote.

According to the investigation, Mario Estrada allegedly solicited drug traffickers to murder prosecutors investigating cases. Mario Estrada is in jail in the United States on charges of drug trafficking ties, and his son has said he is innocent.

Porras said the threats against Shaad are under investigation, and that Rafael Curruchiche will assume Shaad's post in charge of prosecuting electoral crimes.

Curruchiche is alleged to have favored businesspeople accused of illicit campaign financing involving the ruling party. He says he acted in accordance with the law.

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