Guatemala hands Mexico ex-governor wanted in corruption case

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Mexico's ex-governor of Veracruz state, Javier Duarte, is escorted in handcuffs by police to an aircraft as he is extradited to Mexico City, at an Air Force base in Guatemala City, Monday, July 17, 2017. Duarte faces charges of embezzlement and ties to organized crime in his home country. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemala handed over a former governor wanted on corruption charges to Mexican authorities Monday.

Former Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte was put on a plane in Guatemala City for his return after dropping a fight against extradition.

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.

"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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