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Mexican judge approves prosecution of ex-Cabinet secretary in corruption case

MEXICO CORRUPTION (ADDS VIDEO) | 13 de agosto de 2019

Mexico City, Aug 13 (efe-epa).- The prosecution of former Government Secretary Rosario Robles, who served in President Enrique Peña Nieto's 2012-2018 administration, was approved by a Mexican judge on Tuesday.

Robles is accused of allowing the embezzlement of 5 billion pesos (about $255.6 million) and will be imprisoned in the capital under preventive detention.

After a long appearance in court that began Monday at 4:00 pm, the former Cabinet secretary's prosecution was finally approved by the judge at around 6:00 am on Tuesday.

Robles is expected to be moved to Santa Martha Acatitla Prison, located in the eastern section of Mexico City.

Shortly before the move, his attorneys defended the "innocence" of their client and called the whole legal process "political persecution," particularly slamming the judge's sentence of preventive detention.

"I am here to present my defense, to show my innocence...I fully trust the autonomy of the judicial branch," Robles said Monday as she arrived for her court appearance at the Reclusorio Sur prison.

Just before her arrival, her attorneys emerged from a vehicle with boxes full of documents said to demonstrate the innocence of their client, and accused federal prosecutors of being unwilling to receive their compiled evidence.

Based on that, the judge reprimanded the Attorney General's Office for rejecting the evidence and called a recess.

According to the media, Robles during her deposition pointed to defects in the charges of diverting money to her successor in the Social Development Secretariat from 2012 to 2015, Jose Antonio Meade, who was also foreign relations secretary and presidential candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the 2018 elections, won by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Robles was called two weeks ago by the AG's Office for questioning about the suspected embezzlement of public funds and acts of corruption

In response, Robles went last Thursday to her appointment at the Reclusorio Sur courthouse in the capital, certain that she would not be detained, in order to learn the contents of the investigation file against her. The hearing lasting more than 10 hours, during which federal prosecutors urged the judge to prosecute her.

That same day the defense managed to get a suspension of the case in order the gather more evidence of her innocence, which it presented this Monday.

Robles was agrarian development, territorial and urban affairs secretary from 2015 to 2018 and social development secretary from 2012 to 2015 under Peña Nieto.

She was also acting Federal District government secretary from 1999 to 2000 under the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

In 2017, the Animal Politico news website and Mexicans against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) reported that the Peña Nieto administration had used "ghost companies" to pilfer funds by means of fraudulent contracts in a scheme called "Master Swindle."

That money would have been handed over between 2013 and 2014 to 186 companies, but 128 of them had neither the infrastructure nor the legal status to offer services. EFE-EPA jmrg-mqb/cd

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