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Ex-Guatemala president extradited to U.S.

By Sonia Perez Diaz

Associated Press

Published: Friday, May 24 2013 10:01 p.m. MDT

A plane carrying the former president of Guatemala, Alfonso Portillo, prepares to take off at the airport in Guatemala City, Friday, May 24, 2013. Portillo was extradited to the United States to face charges of laundering $70 million in Guatemalan funds through U.S. bank accounts. (AP Photo)

Associated Press

GUATEMALA CITY — Ex-Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo was extradited on Friday to the United States to face charges of laundering $70 million in Guatemalan funds through U.S. bank accounts.

The former president was taken from a military hospital where he was recovering from liver surgery and a heart condition and put on a plane, according to his lawyer Mauricio Berreondo. He said the plane was bound for New York after a stop in Miami.

"I blame the government for what could happen to him," Berreondo said. "Portillo is sick and there are several pending appeals."

He said one appeal had to do with establishing the state of Portillo's health.

Portillo, who was Guatemala's president from 2000-2004, was taken out of the hospital on orders of Interior Secretary Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, Berreondo said.

An Associated Press reporter saw a small jet carrying Portillo dressed in a black sweatshirt take off late morning local time.

"This decision is an important affirmation of the rule of law and due process in Guatemala," the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala said in a statement. "We commend the Guatemalan authorities in the strengthening of rule of law and the fight against organized crime and corruption."

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