GUATEMALA CITY – A Mexican politician facing corruption charges in his homeland told a Guatemala court on Tuesday that he would not contest extradition to the Aztec nation.
“I accept the extradition that the government of the current (Mexican) administration – certainly a flawed government – is seeking in this case,” Javier Duarte said during a hearing.
The former governor of the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, who has been in custody in Guatemala for two months, formally relinquished the right to appeal the extradition even as he repeated his claim of innocence.
Acting on an international warrant, Guatemalan Interpol agents detained the 43-year-old Duarte in April at a luxury hotel in Panajachel, a lakeside resort town southwest of Guatemala City.
He stepped down from the Veracruz governorship in October after being charged with corruption and racketeering. The state legislature allowed him to leave with six weeks left in his term so he could focus on his legal defense.
But Duarte disappeared a week after handing over the reins to an interim governor.
Authorities now suspect that he has been in Guatemala since then, benefiting from a clandestine network of individuals and companies who have provided him with safe houses in various parts of the Central American nation.
Duarte is considered responsible for bankrupting the Veracruz state government, whose debt increased by $1.4 billion during his 2010-2016 tenure as governor.
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office alleges that Duarte misappropriated large sums of public funds between 2012 and 2015, using the money to buy real estate in Mexico and abroad.