Guatemala judge OKs corruption probe for ex-president

Former Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom stands handcuffed in a court where a ruling is expected on whether he will be released or tried for corruption, in Guatemala City, Thursday, March 1, 2018. Colom defended his actions Wednesday in a case of suspected corruption involving bus concessions, saying his order for a $35 million upgrade to the public transit system was legitimate. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)

GUATEMALA CITY - A Guatemalan judge ruled Thursday that an investigation will proceed against former President Alvaro Colom in a case of alleged corruption involving bus concessions during his 2008-2012 administration.

Judge Eduardo Cojulum said Colom should be investigated for possible crimes of embezzlement and fraud along with 12 of his former Cabinet ministers, including the current president of Oxfam International.

Colom and the ministers were arrested Feb. 13. He told the judge he is innocent and his project to upgrade public transport aimed to prevent deadly attacks on bus drivers and passengers.

The case centres on 25-year concessions for Guatemala City bus routes that were auctioned off during Colom's presidency. Prosecutors say the process was deeply flawed and it is suspected that the government was defrauded out of millions of dollars.

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