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Portillo Says He’ll Face Corruption Charges

February 27, 2004

GUATEMALA (AFP) – Former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo may return to Guatemala to defend himself against accusations of corruption in the next few days from Mexico, where he fled Feb. 18.

“I’m going to go back there, and in Guatemala I’ll hold a press conference. I have been analyzing the situation with my lawyers the last few days and we are nearly ready,” Portillo said in a phone call from Mexico to Radio Sonora in Guatemala.

The ex-President avoided committing to a precise date of arrival. “I’ll go back soon,” he said, according to the radio news broadcast.

HIS statements came the day after Judge Saúl Alvarez ordered the investigation of Portillo’s Guatemalan bank accounts to determine the source of the funds in them.

Alvarez explained that the order, which he also imposed on the accounts of former Vice-President Francisco Reyes, two other public officials and four citizens, will attempt to determine whether there was a movement of funds from Guatemalan accounts to banks in Panama. The accounts in Panama are also under investigation.

Portillo left his country for Mexico suddenly Feb. 18 one day after the

Constitutional Court

stripped him of immunity (TT, Feb. 20).

THE next day, he called AFP in Guatemala to announce that he had decided to leave the country because “they want to condemn me without proof,” for the alleged cases of corruption.

According to the Guatemalan press, Portillo, other former officials and some of their colleagues opened at least 14 bank accounts in Panama where they allegedly transferred public funds.

The local press also reported there have been 11 accusations presented against Portillo in the last two years, and now that he has lost his immunity they will be sent to the Supreme Court.

 

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