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Mexico requests extradition of former ruling party governor

FILE PHOTO - Former Chihuahua state governor Cesar Duarte delivers speech during his annual Government report at the University Cultural Center in Ciudad Juarez, October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

(reuters_tickers)

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's attorney general's office said on Friday it had requested the extradition of a former ruling party governor accused of corruption and electoral crimes, though it did not identify the country involved.

Separate requests were made for the extradition of Cesar Duarte, who governed the northern state of Chihuahua from 2010 to 2016, a source in the attorney general's office said on condition of anonymity.

It is not clear where Duarte is now, though current Chihuahua Governor Javier Corral has repeatedly said he is in the United States.

Earlier this week, the attorney general's office said nearly a dozen allegations of corruption and other crimes have been made against Duarte, who was a member of President Enrique Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

Duarte denied accusations of wrongdoing before disappearing from public view. His whereabouts have been unclear since around the time his term finished in October 2016.

Another former PRI official, Alejandro Gutierrez, was arrested last month. Chihuahua prosecutors accuse him of participating in a scheme to divert 250 million pesos ($13 million) in public funds earmarked for education.

Corral has accused Mexico's finance ministry of withholding funds to punish his government for investigating alleged PRI corruption.

A member of the centre-right opposition National Action Party (PAN), Corral was among those who called for Duarte's extradition.

The PRI has faced a string of corruption scandals ahead of a presidential election in July. The corruption issue is expected to be a central theme in the campaign.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Julia Love; Editing by Paul Simao)

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