Javier Duarte and the Freedom to Choose Prison in Guatemala
Por Isabel Soto Mayedo
Guatemala, Apr 20 (Prensa Latina) The former governor of the Mexican state of Veracruz, Javier Duarte, chose to remain in a military prison in Guatemala until the formal extradition request from the Enrique Peña Nieto government is received.
His statements to the Fifth Courtroom of the Sentence Court on Drug Trafficking and Crimes against the Environment of Venezuela did not take by surprise those present on the 11th floor of the Tower of Courts on Wednesday.
However, they raised a debate on the freedom to choose by Duarte, who had been wanted over the past six month even by the International Police (Interpol).
The 43-year-old politician is accused in Mexico of alleged organized crime and money laundering or operations with illegal resources.
He is also linked to bloody assassinations by the drug-trafficking cartels, several cases of abduction and the assassinations of a score of journalists, crimes that are heavier than all the millions of dollars he stole over the past few years as part of his criminal activities.
Despite the criminal prosecution against him, the ex-governor (2010-2016) from the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI), to which Peña Nieto also belongs, succeeded in fleeing and taking shelter in Guatemala illegally.
As a result, he could have been deported after the Civil National Police and the Interpol in Guatemala captured him on Saturday in a hotel in Panajachel, in the southwestern department of Solola.
However, Mexican authorities decided to proceed according to the bilateral extradition treaty (2005), by virtue of which, Duarte's extradition might take up to a year.
In light of that, several people insist that it seems that no one is concerned that the ex-governor will be at the mercy of Guatemala's controversial justice for a period, so the process against him and the application of much-demanded justice would be delayed.
During Wednesday's hearing, Guatemalan Judge Adan Garcia made it clear that Duarte will not be tried in this country and that the hearing was part of procedures in a lengthy repatriation process.
In tune with that, the former governor of Veracruz said that he would not oppose the official process to return home, but he noted that he would wait in the prison of the San Rafael de Matamoros Military Garrison, in this capital, for the Mexican government to submit the formal extradition request.
He admitted that he had lived illegally for six months on Guatemalan territory. 'At present I cannot accept the charges until the formal extradition request is received and is evaluated by my defense lawyer,' he added.
That answer, given after he listened for one hour to the report from Mexican authorities against him, seemed ambiguous and delaying, probably to wait for eventual developments in his favor.
However, the politician did no longer show his smiling and even ironic face like when he was captured in Panajachel. He somewhat looked exhausted.
At least, Duarte is not the same man who assured in front of Televisa cameras in October 2016, when he was indicted by a federal judge, that rather than fleeing Mexico, he would face justice to smash the 'infamies, slanders that are groundless' against him.
In light of the journalists' insistence on Wednesday, he chose to remain silent and unexpressive.
Meanwhile, Guatemalan Interior Minister Francisco Rivas insisted that an investigation was under way to find Duarte's accomplices and properties, bank accounts and other assets that he might have in this country.
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