Mexico’s Supreme Court rules AG wrongly had in-laws jailed
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s Supreme Court dealt a sharp rebuff Monday to the country’s attorney general, ruling that his efforts to lock up his in-laws were unconstitutional.
The ruling freed the common-law wife of the deceased brother of Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero and her daughter.
He had both women charged, and the daughter locked up for over a year, claiming they failed to give his ill brother adequate medical attention.
Gertz Manero claimed he filed the charges as an individual, not as attorney general. But recordings released this month suggest he discussed the case with justices and staff from the prosecutors’ office.
“The Supreme Court determined that the arrest warrants and holding over for trial” of the two women “are unconstitutional, given that the authorities did not fulfill the requirements established in the Constitution,” a statement from the court said.
It said the unusual charges lodged against the women — equivalent to “accessory to murder by failure to arrange adequate care” — were either not applicable, not justified or did not exist in Mexican law.
The common-law wife is 95, and because of her age, she was not held in prison pending trial. But her daughter, Alejandra Cuevas, 69, has been in prison for more than a year, awaiting trial on charges of “homicide by omission.” They both have said they did everything they could, and trusted in doctors to save Gertz Manero’s brother, who died of multiple organ failure.
It is not the first time Gertz Manero has pressed personal matters while acting as the country’s top prosecutor.
He has been trying to lock up 31 academics in a maximum security prison because he claims they improperly received about $2.5 million in government science funding years ago. The laws at the time allowed such funding, and the researchers say it wasn’t misspent.
The academic board involved had previously recommended not approving Gertz Manero’s request for formal recognition as a leading academic.
The attorney general also once threatened to bring charges against U.S. prosecutors for their investigation of Mexico’s former defense secretary in a drug trafficking case. Gertz Manero’s office quickly cleared the former official after a summary investigation.
Gertz Manero, meanwhile, has failed to convict any of the top figures implicated in a big corruption case at the state-run Pemex oil company that almost bankrupted the firm.
So far, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has supported the attorney general, who he cannot directly fire. That would require a congressional procedure.
Critics say Gertz Manero’s actions belie the president’s key promise to root out governmental corruption.
Earlier this month, the attorney general figured in a series of recordings in which he cursed about a Supreme Court justice who would not agree to keep his in-laws locked up.
A voice identified as that of Gertz Manero is heard on the audio posted by newspapers calling his niece an “asshole” and asking an assistant how they can use appeals to avoid her being released.
The recordings suggest Gertz Manero got an advance copy of a proposed but not yet approved Supreme Court opinion that apparently recommended freeing his niece.
Most attorneys general around the world would have been required to recuse themselves from a case in which they had such obvious personal connections, but Gertz Manero claimed that local prosecutors, not his federal office, brought the charges at his request.