HomeNewsBriefGuatemala Court Rules to Extradite Ex-President Portillo to US
BRIEF

Guatemala Court Rules to Extradite Ex-President Portillo to US

EXTRADITION / 3 SEP 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

Guatemala has announced that ex-President Alfonso Portillo will be extradited to the US, removing any possibility he can use the country's notorious injunction, the "amparo," to halt future proceedings. Despite praise for the ruling, the country still has much to do to address its weak judicial system.

Guatemala's Constitutional Court ruled unanimously on August 29, that former President Portillo, who served in office from 2000-2004, can now be extradited to the US. Portillo was indicted by a court in the Southern District of New York on charges relating to the embezzlement and laundering of funds totalling $70 million.

The ex-head of state was arrested in January 2010 and faced trial in Guatemala last year on charges that he stole $15 million from the Defense Ministry during his time in office. He was acquitted in May 2011, though a Guatemalan court ruled in November that he should be extradited to the US.

The latest decision by the Constitutional Court affirms that Portillo will not be able to use an amparo, according to Siglo 21, a legal tool often utilized by Guatemalan criminals to delay extradition proceedings indefinitely on the grounds that it violates their constitutional rights.

US officials praised the court's decision, reported the Associated Press, saying that it marked a development in Guatemala's fight against impunity.

InSight Crime Analysis

Despite the fact the Constitutional Court removed the possibility of using the amparo, there are still legal channels Portillo can employ to avoid extradition, including filing a habeas corpus request that could force the US to withdraw its extradition order, Portillo's defense lawyer outlined.

The ruling is still a positive development in pushing forward extradition proceedings, however, a legal process that has seen its share of delays in Guatemala. In June, the head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) lambasted the red tape and endless appeals that put a halt to extraditions.

To describe the Court's decision as a development in the fight against impunity in Guatemala, though, is off the mark. Indeed, the verdict to acquit Portillo in the first place last year showed just how far Guatemala's judicial system needs to progress in order to take on these cases itself and not rely on extradition.

Many important extradition rulings have been made this year involving prominent drug traffickers -- among them alias "Juan Chamale," and Walther Overdick -- but these largely stemmed from the fact that they faced no charges in their home country, despite the seriousness of their alleged crimes.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 24 AUG 2017

Guatemala President Jimmy Morales' reported move to try to oust the head of the country's international anti-corruption body (CICIG)…

GUATEMALA / 30 NOV 2015

The head of the United Nations' anti-impunity commission in Guatemala, Ivan Velasquez, said impunity will only fall when the government…

GUATEMALA / 21 NOV 2014

Guatemala's Constitutional Court has deemed the selection of more than 100 judges to the country's Supreme Court and appellate courts…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…