The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) will decide this week whether to attract the review of amparo related to the open investigation for possible acts of corruption behind the nine-year prison sentence negotiated between the former governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte de Ochoa, and the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic (PGR), in the past six years.
This is a protection that a federal judge granted last June to the civil organization TOJIL to be allowed access and participate in such an investigation, after recognizing its role as victims in this investigation, which is an unprecedented fact in cases of corruption in Mexico Co.
However, the Office of the Attorney General (formerly PGR) brought an appeal for review against that decision, and the case is now in the hands of the Court.
The criminal investigation into possible anomalies in Javier Duarte’s ruling was initiated after a criminal complaint filed by TOJIL against the PGR officials who participated in the negotiation of the reduced sentence with the former governor and his lawyers.
Read more: Yes, your honor: Duarte accepted his guilt to get only 9 years in prison… 4 if you’re good
However, even when they filed this complaint, the law prevents TOJIL from providing evidence or reviewing the dossier unless they are officially recognized as victims in this case, and not just as whistleblowers.
For Adriana Greaves, co-founder of TOJIL, there is no doubt that the case has the necessary significance to be of interest to the Court not only because they are possible anomalies in an open trial against a character widely known as Javier Duarte, but also because this could mark a part of justice and anti-corruption processes in Mexico.
“Many of the failures in the fight against corruption in Mexico are due to the institutional inability to properly investigate corruption networks. It is then vital that civil society can accompany the Public Prosecutor’s Office to address the deficiencies and even do a parallel investigation to present evidence that is sufficient,” Greaves said.
The determination on the admission or not of the review of this protection shall be made by the First Chamber of the Court at the session scheduled for next Wednesday, 16 October.
Find out: Claim for protection and alleged forgery delay the lawsuit against Duarte for peculado
The lawyer and also co-founder of the organization, Estefanía Medina Ruvalcaba, explained that if the Court determines that the case has sufficient merit to be attracted, then it will be a minister of the first Chamber responsible for studying and drafting a project that confirm or reverse the sentence previously filed by a judge.
If the First Chamber of the SCJN decided not to attract the case, then a Collegiate Court will be responsible for reviewing the protection.
A conviction under suspicion
On September 26, 2018, a federal judge of the Reclusorio Norte sentenced Javier Duarte de Ochoa to nine years in prison for the offences of criminal association and money laundering. The sentence, reduced below the minimum established by law, was handed down after Duarte himself pleaded guilty in exchange for his conviction being reduced.
The agreement between Duarte and the PGR came after the unit agreed to withdraw from its charge the crime of organized crime, which was the most serious in the case. Details and audios of how this determination was made and the dictation of the judgment can be consulted in this note published by Political Animal.
The way in which this procedure was conducted is considered “anomalous and clearly harmful” to the State by TOJIL’s lawyers, who even filed a criminal complaint with the same PGR, which gave way to the opening of a against officials who are responsible.
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“The negotiation conducted by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Federation is completely disproportionate to the facts that were investigated, so there is a warning of possible collusion with the accused in exchange for an amount of money, goods or benefits that resulted in the application for a wholly inadequate penalty,” reads in the criminal complaint promoted by TOJIL in October 2018.
Medina Ruvalcaba detailed that the Duarte case had to be handled in an exemplary manner both by the profile of the character in question as well as by the seriousness of the accusations that included the possible diversion of millions of pesos from the treasury to ghost enterprises. Instead, the lawyer said, a short exit was sought that even prevented the case from reaching a real trial.
Even Javier Duarte himself already questioned the legality of the agreement itself that he had accepted.
For example, in interviews disseminated in various media a few months ago, Duarte said that in 2018 he paid a large amount of money (the amount of which he did not specify) to PGR officials, led at the time by Alberto Elías Beltrán. This is part of an alleged negotiation to plead guilty, in exchange for reducing the seriousness of the accusations.
According to TOJIL’s lawyers, these statements reinforce the need for a thorough conclusion that they filed for possible corruption in this process, but to this end they stressed that it is essential that they be allowed to participate in the inquiry.
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“It is therefore important that the Court attracted you given the significance of the case. The change that could be achieved through this resolution in the event that it is flattering would be a clear signal of what has been said that corruption will not be tolerated, but it needs to be left not only in the sayings but transcends the review n in the background of cases as is this, ” said Adriana Greaves.
The remaining cases
Duarte is currently in prison for the nine-year prison sentence he was given after pleading guilty in the federal case of money laundering and criminal association.
This is a case questioned not only by the suspicions of corruption reported by TOJIL but by Duarte himself who through his defense seeks a protection that allows him to appeal the conviction. This on the grounds that the PGR would have used bank evidence obtained without the endorsement of a judge.
On the other hand the Prosecutor’s Office of Veracruz promoted at the time two criminal proceedings against the exonerator for the possible diversion of 220 million pesos and the illegal use of a helicopter, however, both trials are detained for amparo lawsuits that he has won Duarte and they have shown anomalies in the integration of the cases.
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