Álvaro Colom addresses a summit on the Millennium Development Goals at United Nations headquarters in New York, Monday, Sept. 20, 2010. Image Credit: AP file/Twitter

Guatemala City: Guatemala's former president Alvaro Colom died on Monday aged 71 from esophageal cancer, his former security minister Carlos Menocal told Reuters.

The former president, who led the Central American country from 2008 to 2012, was very sick and released from the hospital a week and a half ago, Menocal told Reuters.

"To his family and friends I express my heartfelt condolences, may God comfort them in the face of such an irreparable loss," current president Alejandro Giammattei said on Twitter.

Colom, a soft-spoken politician and textile businessman, beat former head of army intelligence Otto Perez Molina in 2007 to become Guatemala's first leftist president since the country's civil war ended in 1996.

The former president, who came to define himself as a social democrat, was arrested in 2018 as part of a local corruption investigation looking at buses bought during his administration for a large public transport program.

When he died, Colom was under preventative home arrest still awaiting a trial.