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Former Guatemalan President Portillo on Trial

Former Guatemalan President Portillo on Trial

Guatemala - Former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo is due in court Wednesday to face charges for embezzling millions of dollars in public funds during his 2000-2004 mandate.

He is accused of having transferred some 120 million quetzales (about 15 million USD) from the Defense Ministry to personal bank accounts and those of close relatives.

This is a historic case in Guatemala, as he is the only former president who has ever been arrested and charged.

When his term was over, Portillo fled to Mexico, where he spent four years until he was extradited to Guatemala.

Upon his arrival in Guatemala in 2008, he paid a high fine and avoided jail. He remained free until January 2010, when a U.S. court sent an extradition request on charges that Portillo laundered at least 70 million USD from public coffers.

After going missing for a few days, he was arrested at a tourist resort in northwest Guatemala, where he had allegedly planned to flee to Belize.