Mexican court denies Portillo's bid for shelter
( dpa ) - The Mexican Supreme Court Wednesday rejected a bid by former Guatemalan president Alfonso Portillo to evade extradition back to his home country, where he faces charges of misappropriating government funds.
The court rejected Portillo's arguments that his extradition would violate the Mexican constitution which guarantees personal freedom.
Portillo was Guatemala's president from 2000 to 2004. He fled to Mexico in February 2004 as prosecutors were probing if government funds - including some provided by Taiwan - had been funnelled into Panamanian bank accounts held by Portillo, a charge the former president denies.
The amount at stake was about 4 million dollars, and lower Mexican courts approved Portillo's extradition in 2006.
Taiwan in 2005 denied that it gave Portillo 500,000 dollars, saying the money was donated to the Guatemalan government to print teachers' manuals.
Taiwanese officials said they had made the check out personally to Portillo because at that time Portillo had been elected president but had not been sworn in.
Guatemala remains as one of a dwindling number of countries that still have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. On January 14, the African country Malawi switched alliances to China, reducing Taiwan's diplomatic allies to 23.
The bribery allegation against Portillo was one of a string of suspected bribery scandals involving Taiwan and Latin American leaders.
In another scandal, former Costa Rican president Miguel Angel Rodriguez - president from 1998-2002 - was accused of receiving 200,000 dollars from Taiwan's Foreign Ministry in 2001 and another 200,000 dollars in 2002 from the Taiwan embassy.
Costa Rica last year switched alliances to China, which claims Taiwan as a province and will not have diplomatic ties with countries that have relations with Taiwan.
China has accused Taiwan of buying diplomatic recognition from small countries, while Taiwan accuses China of trying to woo away its allies with cash and aid.