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18 July 2017

Javier Duarte, former Mexican governor, extradited from Guatemala

Javier Duarte (C), former governor of the Mexican state of Veracruz, is escorted by police after arriving to the Air Force compound for his extradition to Mexico, in Guatemala City, Guatemala, 17 July 17Image copyright
Reuters

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Javier Duarte (centre) left Guatemala City on Monday under heavy security

The former governor of the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz has arrived back on home soil, after being extradited from Guatemala.

Javier Duarte has been charged with corruption, money laundering and involvement in organised crime.

Mr Duarte resigned his post in October 2016. He has rejected the allegations and vowed to clear his name.

But he went missing a few weeks afterwards and was only arrested six months later in a hotel in Guatemala.

Mr Duarte was detained in the city of Solola in a joint operation between Interpol and Guatemalan police.

He is suspected of having siphoned off at least 645 million Mexican pesos ($35m; £28m) of public money that was put into a series of shell companies.

During a search of his luxury ranch in Mexico, police also found 17 paintings believed to be by famous artists such as Joan Miró, Fernando Botero and Leonora Carrington.

‘Steps to reduce impunity’

There was an explosion in violence and corruption in the state during his six years in office, in particular a spike in the number of murders and disappearances.

Under Mr Duarte, Veracruz also became the most dangerous region of the country for journalists, with 17 killed during his term.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Mr Duarte had been suspended from his party before he disappeared

Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office heralded his extradition as evidence of the federal government’s “commitment to take concrete steps to reduce impunity and strengthen the rule of law”.

But there is little doubt that the former politician embarrasses the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto, says the BBC’s Will Grant in Mexico City.

Mr Duarte, 43, is one of three governors to have fled Mexico and been arrested abroad over allegations of links to organised crime, with all three politicians coming from the governing PRI party.

His political opponents from the National Action Party won the election to fill his position in December.

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