January 4, 2018 / 5:03 PM / 7 months ago

Panama extradites former Mexican governor accused of corruption

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - A former state governor for Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was extradited on Thursday from Panama to Mexico, where he faces corruption charges, Mexico’s attorney general’s office and secretary of external relations said in a statement.

Roberto Borge (C), former governor of Quintana Roo state of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is escorted by Panamanian security forces while being extradited to Mexico to face charges for corruption, at the Toncontin airport in Panama City, Panama January 4, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Lemos

Roberto Borge, who governed the touristy state of Quintana Roo from 2010 to 2016, was taken under strict security from the offices of Panama’s national police to an air force base, where he boarded a Mexican plane, local television footage showed.

Mexican prosecutors accuse Borge of using funds obtained illegally, embezzlement and abuse of public office. Borge has denied the allegations.

Borge was arrested in Panama City in June as he was preparing to board a flight to Paris. Panama’s foreign ministry said last week that it would send Borge to Mexico.

For the PRI, the extradition is the latest reminder of corruption scandals as the party tries to rehabilitate its image ahead of a presidential election in July.

The PRI, which is trying to keep hold of power as President Enrique Pena Nieto’s term ends, has faced a spate of graft allegations, and four of its former governors were arrested on such charges last year in various countries, including Borge.

Last month, Mexican authorities arrested Alejandro Gutierrez, a former high-ranking PRI official, in a corruption investigation in the northern state of Chihuahua.

Reporting by Elida Moreno; writing by Julia Love; Editing by Susan Thomas

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