Mexico Authorizes Portillo's Extradition

The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 31, 2006; 11:15 PM

MEXICO CITY -- The Mexican government has authorized the extradition of ex-Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo to face embezzlement charges in his country, officials said Tuesday. Portillo's defense lawyer said he would immediately appeal.

Portillo served as Guatemala's president from 2000 to 2004, when he fled to Mexico. He is accused of authorizing $15 million in transfers to the defense department, where officials close to him allegedly pocketed most of the cash.

Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez signed the extradition order and notified Portillo on Monday, spokesman Armando Segura told The Associated Press.

Guatemalan authorities fear that Portillo could flee Mexico upon learning extradition is imminent.

The Mexican government has ordered immigration authorities not to let Portillo leave the country. And the former president must appear before a judge every Monday to verify he is still in Mexico, said Carlos Patricio Rodriguez, the public prosecutor in charge of the case, during a press conference in Guatemala.

Portillo's attorney, Marcos Castillejos, told the AP he was preparing an appeal to present in federal court. Castillejos said he has 15 days to present the request.

The extradition procedure could take four to six months before Portillo stands trial in Guatemala, Rodriguez said.

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Associated Press Writer Juan Carlos Llorca in Guatemala City contributed to this report.


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