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Disgraced Mexican ex-governor extradited from Guatemala

Policeman removes the handcuffs from Javier Duarte's hands, former governor of the Mexican state of Veracruz, after arriving at the Air Force compound for his extradition to Mexico, in Guatemala City

A policeman removes the handcuffs from Javier Duarte’s hands, former governor of the Mexican state of Veracruz, after arriving to the Air Force compound for his extradition to Mexico, in Guatemala City, Guatemala, in this handout photo released to Reuters by the Guatemala Interior Ministry on July 17, 2017. Guatemala Interior Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A former state governor from Mexico’s ruling party wanted for embezzlement and organized crime was extradited to his homeland from Guatemala on Monday, the Mexican government said.

Javier Duarte, who until last year governed the Gulf coast state of Veracruz for President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is suspected of siphoning off millions of dollars during his tenure.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

His case has become emblematic of government failure to root out corruption, undermining support for the PRI, which has been Mexico’s dominant party for most of the past century.

Elected governor in 2010, Duarte allegedly executed massive personal enrichment schemes, potentially totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars and involving assets in Mexico and abroad. He has been accused of using shell companies to transfer and hide public funds.

Duarte was arrested in Guatemala in April after more than five months on the run, and the foreign ministry and the attorney general’s office said in a joint statement that the extradition of the former PRI official had been completed.

Wearing handcuffs and a bulletproof vest, Duarte was transferred Monday morning from the military prison where he had been held since his arrest to Guatemalan Air Force facilities.

He was then handed over to Mexican authorities, and boarded a plane sent by the Mexican attorney general’s office.

Corruption is shaping up to be one of the focal points of next year’s presidential election, with opinion polls showing the PRI is seriously at risk of being voted out of office.

(Reporting by Julia Love in Mexico City and Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

 

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