GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Javier Duarte, the former state governor of Mexico’s ruling party who was arrested in Guatemala at the weekend, said in court on Wednesday he would not agree to be extradited until his lawyers were able to study a formal extradition request.
“At this time, I can’t agree (to extradition) until the formal extradition request arrives, and it can be studied by my defense team” said Duarte. “This doesn’t mean I won’t accept it, though.”
If Duarte agrees to be extradited, he could be back in Mexico within a month, according to Guatemalan justice officials. If not, it might take considerably longer.
Duarte faces prosecution for embezzlement and organized crime in Mexico, where he was the governor of Veracruz state until last year. He has denied any wrongdoing.
A lawyer for Duarte said shortly after the arrest the former governor would likely accept his extradition.
The Mexican government has 60 days to present a formal extradition request to Guatemala. Duarte’s defense team will then decide whether to agree to his extradition. He will remain jailed during that time.
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office said this week that Duarte’s extradition could take up to a year if he resists.
Duarte, who governed the oil-rich state of Veracruz for President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), became a symbol of corruption in Mexico, and his case is highly politicized with elections looming.
Separately, Mexico’s Attorney General’s office said on Wednesday that Javier Nava, one of Duarte’s alleged partners in crime, suspected of corruption and ties to organized crime, has been detained in Barcelona with the help of Spanish police.
Mexico has 45 days to formally present an extradition request for Nava’s return to Mexico, the statement said.
Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Editing by Sandra Maler