A smiling Duarte after his arrest. A smiling Duarte after his arrest.

Javier Duarte’s smiles caused by nerves

Veracruz governor says his predecessor is scared of the consequences

The smiles on the face of Veracruz ex-governor Duarte following his arrest in Guatemala Saturday were caused by nerves, said his successor today.

Governor Miguel Ángel Yunes told Imagen Radio this morning that Javier Duarte never expected to be caught.

“It was a look of fear, of nervousness,” the governor said, describing several photos that were published shortly after Duarte’s capture. He suggested that no one could be content knowing they face many years in prison.

The 43-year-old Duarte also looks bewildered and pensive in some of the photos, taken during his capture at a hotel in a Guatemalan tourist destination, bringing to an end a six-month manhunt for the former governor, wanted on corruption charges.

Yunes said Duarte is scared because he had expected to live like a king in Europe, but failed to achieve that goal.

He also said his government will seek the return of all the resources Duarte allegedly stole from the state. “Duarte is going to be as poor as the citizens of Veracruz, whom he left in that state.”

He is alleged to have embezzled as much as 14 billion pesos (US $756 million at today’s exchange rate) during his six years as governor.

Having Duarte return the stolen funds would appear to be a priority for the federal Attorney General. An official in that office said in an interview this morning that with the fugitive politician now in custody, the next step is recovering the embezzled resources and returning them to the state of Veracruz.

“Now that we have Duarte we are going for everything he stole,” said Alberto Elías Beltrán.

He also denied that his arrest had been staged for political ends, an accusation that has been made by Morena party leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

A political scientist has said that Duarte’s capture should be good for President Enrique Peña Nieto’s standing, an important factor now as voters in the State of México, a stronghold of the president’s Institutional Revolutionary Party and his home state, elect a new governor in June in a race that could be tight.

Elías Beltrán also said Duarte was nervous at the time of his arrest but said he offered no resistance.

Extradition proceedings have begun against the former governor. Elías Beltrán predicted the process could take as long as a year if Duarte fights it, and two or three months if he doesn’t.

His lawyer said yesterday Duarte would probably not fight an extradition order. An official in Guatemala’s foreign affairs ministry said there was a possibility Duarte could be deported if he had entered the country illegally.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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