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Jailed Former President of Guatemala Wants a TV

A month after being sent to jail accused of heading major corruption racket, Otto Pérez Molina asks for luxuries to alleviate boredem.
October 1, 2015, 9:15pm
Imagen por Moisés Castillo/AP

Former Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina wants a computer. He would also like a television, a stereo, an exercise machine, a water dispenser and an electric stove.

But, languishing in prison since the day he resigned the presidency a month ago, the disgraced head of state knows he may not be able to take such luxuries for granted for a long time.

Pérez Molina's detailed his wish list in a formal request filed to a court by his lawyers and seen by The Associated Press.

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The former president, his lawyers argue, has the right to leisure, health and freedom of expression. Following a long tradition of public figures who have turned to writing when put behind bars, the retired general is also reportedly planning a book on the history of his country.

"He is bored," lawyer Moisés Galindo told the agency.

Pérez Molina's fall from president to inmate came as the result of a relentless investigation by an internationally-backed special commission formed in 2007 to help Guatemalan institutions combat corruption and impunity.

The commission, known as the CICIG, accuses Pérez Molina of heading a major scam in which importers paid bribes to officials in exchange for a reduction of tariffs. He allegedly ran the racket with the help of his former vice president Roxana Baldetti, as well as a whole network of lower level officials.

Both Pérez Molina and Baldetti deny any involvement in the fraud. Both are now in Jail as the investigation continues.

But while the fall has been hard, it could have been worse.

Pérez Molina is being held inside the Matamoros military barracks in Guatemala City, within a specially adapted apartment behind its own walls topped with razor wire.

Guatemalan magazine Contrapoder obtained images of the apartment made up of a bedroom containing a double bed, a sitting room filled with chairs and small tables, and a tiled bathroom.

Baldetti was also in the same prison for two weeks after her arrest on August 24. But, reportedly because the jail cannot legally hold women, she was then transferred to a women's prison called Santa Teresa.

The former vice president can, however, at least sleep in a bed in a private space. Photographs published in the Guatemalan newsite Nómada show other inmates in the same jail sleeping many to a cell, crushed together and on the floor.

Related: The Corruption Crackdown in Guatemala Is Making Mexico Jealous

Follow Jo Tuckman on Twitter: @jotuckman