Page last updated at 04:26 GMT, Thursday, 18 March 2010

Guatemala to extradite ex-leader Alfonso Portillo to US

Alfonso Portillo in court in Guatemala City (2008)
Mr Portillo denies the charges

A criminal court in Guatemala has agreed to extradite former President Alfonso Portillo to the US where he faces money-laundering charges.

He was arrested in January following US charges that he had laundered money stolen from a children's charity and embezzled state funds.

He has since been held in a high-security prison in Guatemala City.

Mr Portillo, 58, has repeatedly denied the charges levelled against him, which he says are political.

He fled to Mexico after his term finished in 2004 but was sent back in 2008 to face corruption charges.

The former president "embezzled tens of million of dollars worth of public funds, a portion of which he then laundered through bank accounts in the US and Europe", a New York grand jury indictment said in February.

He has also been accused by Guatemalan authorities over the disappearance of $15m (£9.2m) earmarked for the Guatemalan defence department.

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