San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemalan Judge Issues Warrant for Portillo

GUATEMALA CITY (EFE) – AGuatemalan judge this week issued anarrest warrant for former PresidentAlfonso Portillo, who stands accused ofembezzlement and is living in exile inMexico, officials said Tuesday.Judge Victor Hugo Ríos said at apress conference that Judge DinoraMartinez, who took over the case fromhim less than a week ago due to healthreasons, issued the arrest order.The warrant, according to Rios, is currentlyvalid only in Guatemala, and prosecutorswill have to begin the extraditionprocess against the former president, whohas been in Mexico since February 2004.Prosecutors “should now start theprocess to request (the return of Portillo)on the basis of the extradition treatiesGuatemala has with Mexico,” Rios said.The Attorney General’s Office hasaccused Portillo of being behind the misdirectionof $16 million, which “disappeared”after being transferred to theDefense Ministry.On Feb. 18, 2004, after losing hisimmunity from prosecution, Portillosneaked out of the country by land to ElSalvador, and then went to Mexico, wherehe has described himself as a “persecutedpolitician.”Several months later, Mexican immigrationauthorities granted a work permitto Portillo, who, according to pressreports, has worked as a consultant to severalMexican companies.The 2000-2004 Portillo administrationwas plagued by allegations of corruption.Press reports say more than $500 millionwas stolen from public coffers duringPortillo’s time in office.

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