Guatemala City: A Guatemalan criminal court authorised the extradition of ex-president Alfonso Portillo to the United States, where he faces money laundering charges.
"This court finds the US government's extradition request against Alfonso Portillo, accused of crimes of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, will go ahead," the Fifth Sentencing Court's decision read.
The former leader has been held at a high security facility here that houses some of the country's most notorious criminals, including drug dealers and kidnappers.
Portillo was arrested in January following the US extradition request for charges dating back to his 2000-2004 presidency.
He fled to Mexico in 2005 after losing immunity from prosecution for alleged corruption during his administration. In October 2008, he was extradited from Mexico to Guatemala, where he has been awaiting trial on embezzlement charges.
Guatemala has accused Portillo of authorising some USD 15 million in transfers to Guatemala's Defence Department, where officials close to him allegedly took part of the money.
An indictment by a grand jury in New York last month accused Portillo of having "embezzled tens of million of dollars worth of public funds, a portion of which he then laundered through bank accounts... in the United States and Europe."
First Published: Thursday, March 18, 2010, 13:27