Guatemala hands Mexico ex-governor wanted in corruption case

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The aircraft carrying Mexico's ex-governor of Veracruz state, Javier Duarte, takes off from an Air Force base in Guatemala City, as he is extradited to Mexico City, Monday, July 17, 2017. Duarte faces charges of embezzlement and ties to organized crime in his home country. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) - The former governor of the Gulf coast state of Veracruz was extradited from Guatemala to Mexico on Monday to face corruption charges.

Former Gov. Javier Duarte was flown to Mexico City after dropping a fight against extradition. Duarte appeared at the Mexico City airport clean-shaven, guarded and unsmiling, a contrast with his appearance in Guatemala, when he wore a full beard and often grinned broadly.

Duarte fled to Guatemala after resigning as governor of one of Mexico's most populous states amid mounting allegations of corruption. He faces charges that include organized crime, influence trafficking, embezzlement and abuse of authority.

The Mexican Attorney General's Office said Duarte was taken to a Mexico City prison for the first hearings in his case. The seriousness of the charges appears to rule out the possibility of his release on bail.

"With this kind of actions, the Mexican government stresses its commitment to take concrete steps to reduce impunity ... and strengthen the rule of law," The Mexican Attorney General's Office said in a statement.

The case is sensitive for Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, which is trying to clean up its image ahead of next year's presidential vote.

Many party leaders had publicly hobnobbed with Duarte, whose state had been a key bastion for the party until it lost the governorship there this year.

Duarte's legal team has said the state charges are baseless and politically motivated.

Prosecutors allege that, as governor, Duarte embezzled millions and used much of the money to buy properties.

Duarte is one of three fugitive former Mexican governors arrested abroad recently. Italian authorities captured ex-Tamaulipas Gov. Tomas Yarrington in April. In June, former Gov. Roberto Borge of Quintana Roo state was arrested in Panama.

All three belonged to the ruling party.

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