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Ex-president of Guatemala extradited for corruption

Former Guatemalan President Alfono Portillo is seen in this undated file photo. REUTERS/Stringer

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo, accused of fraud and corruption at the end of his term in 2004, was extradited on Tuesday from Mexico to face charges in his home country.

Portillo slipped into Mexico amid a wave of arrests of his former cabinet members after he left office. Guatemala’s attorney general’s office said he diverted $15.7 million, slated for the defense ministry, to his own accounts.

The ex-president arrived in Guatemala from Mexico and was on his way to court to face charges, a foreign ministry official told Reuters.

A Mexican judge ordered his extradition in 2006 but the process was held up by appeals. Portillo gave himself up to Mexican authorities, Guatemalan radio reported on Tuesday.

Portillo won office promising to redistribute wealth in impoverished Guatemala. He was the candidate for the party of dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who was accused of masterminding massacres of Mayans at the height of Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war.

During Portillo’s campaign for office in 2000 he admitted to killing two Mexicans in the 1980s, boosting his image as a tough man.

Reporting by Sarah Grainger, editing by Vicki Allen