Selecciona Edición
Conéctate
Selecciona Edición
Tamaño letra
Corrupción en Guatemala

Cable de EE UU en el que Castresana explica que teme por la vida del expresidente Alfonso Portillo, juzgado por corrupción

El fiscal español explica que una mafia de exmilitares implicados en malversación de fondos podría intentar asesinarle para que no les delate

ID: 245649
Date: 2010-01-27 00:12:00
Origin: 10GUATEMALA27
Source: Embassy Guatemala
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno:
Destination: VZCZCXYZ0264
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGT #0027/01 0270012
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 270012Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0850
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0071
RUCNFB/FBI WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L GUATEMALA 000027

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/01/26
TAGS: PGOV, KCRM, ASEC, SNAR, PREL, PINR, GT
SUBJECT: Former President Portillo Captured, Refuses Extradition

CLASSIFIED BY: Drew G. Blakeney, Political and Economic Counselor,
State, P/E; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) Summary. Former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo,
indicted in the U.S. on money laundering charges and a fugitive
from justice, was captured Jan. 26 as he was about to flee to
Belize. The capture was the result of a joint operation involving
CICIG, the Attorney General's Office, the Army, and the Police.
The NAS helicopters provided critical support by ensuring that
Portillo was brought before a judge in the capital within the
six-hour constitutional limit. CICIG told Portillo he had the
option of accepting an expedited proceeding that would lead to his
quick extradition to safety in the U.S. Portillo refused, saying
he preferred to face justice in Guatemala. Portillo's arrest is a
powerful message for Guatemalans that no one is above the law. End
Summary.



2. (C) Following former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo's
indictment in the Southern District of New York on money laundering
charges, and the USG's request for Portillo's provisional arrest,
authorities conducted several unsuccessful raids in eastern
Guatemala Jan. 23-25 to apprehend him. However, Portillo was
captured Jan. 26 in a joint operation led by the International
Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) that included the
Attorney General's Office, Army, and National Civilian Police
(PNC). NAS helicopters transported Portillo from his location on
the coast to Guatemala City; had the NAS helos not been available,
Portillo would have had to be arraigned before a local judge.
CICIG Commissioner Castresana briefed the Ambassador, DCM, and
Pol/Econ Counselor on the afternoon of Jan. 26, and said
investigators had traced Portillo through six safe houses to a
house near Punta Manabique, on the tip of the Amatique Bay
Peninsula, a short boat ride from Belize. Castresana said Portillo
was just minutes away from fleeing to Belize. Portillo's
state-funded bodyguard had nearly spirited him to safety, but a
source close to Portillo led CICIG and police to him. Portillo
likely would have been captured earlier were it not for a leak(s)
from a state source, though it was not clear whether the leak came
from, Castresana said.



3. (C) Castresana said immediately following his apprehension,
Portillo was presented a choice: The Attorney General's Office and
co-plaintiff CICIG could offer him a reduced sentence in Guatemala
for his embezzlement of state funds during his presidency (which
would require him to return 3 million Euros CICIG discovered in the
Portillo Family's European accounts), followed by immediate
extradition to the U.S. to face money laundering charges, which
could carry a 10-20 year prison sentence. The USG now has 40 days
to present its extradition request. Portillo's other choice would
be to remain in detention at Guatemala City's dangerous Zone 18
Prison as he contested Guatemalan criminal charges as well as
extradition to the U.S. Castresana said Portillo's life could be
at risk if he chooses to remain in Guatemala. A powerful group of
former senior military officers known collectively as "The
Brotherhood" ("La Cofradia," suspected of narcotrafficking and
other crimes), who colluded with then-President Portillo to
embezzle millions from the state, might seek to murder him in order
to ensure he does not collaborate with Guatemalan or U.S.
authorities. Castresana said Portillo had immediately rejected
voluntary extradition to the U.S., saying he would make his case in
Guatemala. This tracks with earlier statements made by Portillo's
lawyer, Telesforo Guerra. Castresana thought Portillo's appeals
could take as much as two years to resolve, during which time he
might escape from prison. He thought, however, there was no chance
that Portillo could escape in the immediate future given CICIG and
state preventive measures as well as intense media scrutiny.



4. (C) Castresana told the Ambassador that, as a fugitive from
justice, Portillo is now barred from seeking public office.
(Comment: Several small parties with constituencies in Portillo's
home district in eastern Guatemala were interested in running him
for Congress in Fall 2011; election to Congress would have
conferred immunity from criminal prosecution. End Comment.) He
offered that President Colom had been helpful throughout the course
of the investigation, and said he thought Colom had little to fear
from Portillo's arrest. Castresana said he believed that Portillo

had provided funds to the (unsuccessful) Colom presidential
campaign in 2003, but that the use of Carlos Quintanilla, the
now-disgraced former head of presidential security, as an
intermediary effectively protected Colom. He also observed that
former Minister of Government Raul Velasquez, who like Portillo is
from eastern Guatemala, is a Portillo follower and had delivered
messages from Portillo to President Colom as recently as December.
Velasquez is unreliable in general, Castresana opined, but is
especially so where Portillo is concerned.



5. (C) Comment. Portillo's capture is a major victory for CICIG,
the USG, the Attorney General's Office, and for the rule of law in
general. It is a powerful message that no one is above the law,
even ex-presidents, and that actions have consequences. It also
punctures the myth that the powerful can always escape justice. It
is, however, a victory that Portillo and criminal gangs will seek
to overturn. Portillo's first response to CICIG was that he would
fight extradition in Guatemalan courts, though it is possible that
the risks associated with incarceration here will eventually
persuade him to change his mind. The powerful group of former
military officers known as "La Cofradia" will certainly feel
threatened by Portillo's arrest. We agree with Castresana that
they might violently retaliate against a high-profile target or
targets, such as the Guatemalan prosecutor handling the case
(Eunice Mendizabal), or CICIG staff. The Embassy will remain
vigilant, and will continue its joint efforts with CICIG.
MCFARLAND