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 / 14 JAN 2020

Alejandro Giammattei assumes Guatemala's presidency facing various security challenges, including drug trafficking, impunity, institutional weakness and poor law enforcement. And two…

BARRIO 18 / 20 APR 2017

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding…

EXTORTION / 27 SEP 2012

Three bus drivers were shot to death in a single day in Guatemala, illustrating the threat that the country's…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…