Mexican jurist slain; and a governor take flight

Two stories today reveal the extent of the crisis facing government in Mexico today: One of the nation’s most powerful judges has been assassinated and a governor close to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has fled rather than stay and face corruption charges.

A jurist assassinated

The judge in question has played a central role in some of Mexico’s most controversial criminal cases, including investigations of major drug cartels and the abductions and presumed murders of 43 missing students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in Ayotzinapa [previously].

From El País:

Mexican Judge Vicente Antonio Bermúdez Zacarías was killed by a gunshot wound to the head on Monday. Bermúdez was approached from behind as he left his home to go out for a run. The assailant shot him in the back of the head from less than 30 centimeters away. Then he and another individual ran from the scene. Bermúdez died hours later in hospital.

The 37-year-old judge tried some of the most famous cases in Mexican history. In March, he ordered a 40-day remand for Abigael “El Cuini” González Valencia, one of the bosses of Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). He also blocked a request for the extradition of Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán to the United States.

One of his last cases involved Gildardo “El Gil” López Astudillo, the suspected ringleader of the hitmen thought to be responsible for the disappearance of 43 student teachers in Ayotzinapa. Judge Bermúdez dismissed the defendant’s petition for a transfer.

Bermúdez served on the bench in Mexico state for three years. The León (Guanajuato state) native specialized in criminal law and, as a judge, he focused on constitutionality issues, remand and search orders.

From Quadratin Edomex, here is the assassination, caught by a surveillance camera:

And a corrupt governor heads for parts unknown

The sordid saga from teleSUR English:

Mexico’s attorney general issued an arrest warrant for Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte over alleged ties to organized crime and corruption, local media reported Tuesday.

Last week, Duarte announced that he would step down almost two months before his term ends in order to face federal corruption investigations. However, he unexpectedly fled the state by helicopter Saturday and his whereabouts are unknown. His soon-to-be successor, Miguel Angel Yunes, a former congressional deputy from the conservative PAN party, claims to have even more evidence implicating him in the corruption charges. According to Yunes, the aircraft Duarte used to escape would have been facilitated by the acting Governor Flavin Rios.

Over the past months, Duarte has been investigated over allegations that he embezzled or misspent as much as US$2 billion since he took office nearly six years ago. That investigation, however, does not include the hundreds of people, including at least 17 journalists, who have either disappeared or been murdered on his watch.

Despite all of this, Duarte maintains his immunity as governor – which means that if he’s arrested, authorities will have to open another trial just to remove his immunity. Currently, he cannot be banned from leaving the country.

Duarte belongs to the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and was a close ally of President Enrique Peña Nieto. However, his own party has turned its back to him.

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