Guatemala said on Wednesday it will ask the United States to extradite former anti-corruption prosecutor Thelma Aldana, who fled to the US last year after a warrant was issued for her arrest over graft.
Aldana was accused in March 2019 of the irregular purchase of a building for the public prosecutor and the creation of fake jobs during her tenure as prosecutor from 2014-18.
She’s denied the accusations and claims they were aimed at punishing her for fighting graft in the Central American country.
Aldana won the Swedish Rights Livelihood Prize in 2018 for her work against corruption and abuse of power.
Internal affairs prosecutor Marlon Pacheco told reporters that the “relevant and necessary steps” had been taken to submit a request to the US.
Aldana left Guatemala for El Salvador after the accusations, which also forced her to abandon a run for president.
She subsequently traveled to the US, Pacheco said.
In 2017, Aldana allegedly approved the purchase of a building for around 10 percent more than its true value, according to investigators.
Aldana says the accusations have been fabricated against her by the “system” as retribution for her collaboration with the UN’s International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
The UN body’s 12-year mission came to an end in September when then-president Jimmy Morales closed it down after being angered by its calls for his immunity to be lifted so he could be investigated over alleged illegal campaign funding.
For his election in 2014, Morales had run on an anti-corruption platform.
Following the extradition request, Aldana accused Attorney General Consuelo Porras of being “sent by the mafia for revenge.”