Former Chihuahua governor César Duarte requests bail release in the U.S., claims political persecution

After years on the run, César Duarte was arrested in Miami. Florida on July 8

Former Chihuahua governor César Duarte requests bail release in the U.S., claims political persecution
César Duarte is accused of embezzlement and electoral offenses in Mexico - Photo: Leo Morales/EL UNIVERSAL
English 31/07/2020 13:48 Mexico City Actualizada 13:48

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The defense of former Chihuahua governor César Duarte, who is accused in Mexico of embezzlement and electoral offenses and whose extradition was requested, told the judge in charge of the case that the accused is the victim political persecution by current governor Javier Corral Jurado.

Duarte’s lawyers, who requested their client be released on bail at a court hearing in Miami, said Duarte will be at risk if he is sent back to his country.

“The approach of the Corral administration has been to accomplish Duarte’s extradition during the last three years to distract [people] from Corral’s poor performance and improve his political career, even as he seeks the Mexican presidency,” they said in a document in which they request Duarte’s bail release.

In the 25-pages long motion presented last-minute, to which EFE had access, the defense mentions that the former governor is not a fugitive and that he had requested political asylum to the U.S., a country to which he legally arrived in 2016.

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His lawyers, Juan Morillo, Armando Rosquete Bell, and Henry Philip Bell, plead in the document that Duarte, who was arrested last July 8 in Miami, does not represent an escape risk nor is he a danger to the community.

Likewise, the defense underscores that the has been living in the United States “in an open and transparent way for over three years,” and that his assets in that country are modest, while those he has in Mexico are “frozen.”

Duarte “has proactively revealed his whereabouts to the [U.S.] government and has voluntarily offered to surrender in response to any arrest warrant,” says the motion.

The lawyers rejected the argument of the U.S. prosecutors, that represent the Mexican government, saying there is risk of Duarte escaping should he be released.

Duarte “has no connections to any country outside the United States apart from Mexico and his life would be at risk if he returned there,” they said.

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On the other hand, they asked for him to be released on bail due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the “limitation imposed on his ability to communicate with a lawyer,” and said he is willing to submit “to the highest level of monitoring available.”

They highlighted that he is not a fugitive by saying he arrived in the United States in November 2016 and it was until March 2017 when he knew about the charges against him.

“In Mexico, criminal charges are often filed under seal. As a result, Duarte did not notice the pending charges against him until after he had been in the U.S. for several months when he got copies of the charges through constitutional challenge procedures,” says the document.

“Corral has campaigned against Duarte, his political enemy, oftentimes in a public way, even repeatedly and publicly promising to immediately send Duarte to prison after his extradition.”

The prosecutors have said Duarte “cannot prove” there is “no escape risk or danger for the community.”

Duarte has been arrested for nearly three weeks at Miami’s Federal Detention Center in Florida, according to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons.

At yesterday’s hearing, through a video due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Duarte appeared before judge Lauren F. Louis, who accused him of aggravated misappropriation and aggravated conspiracy.”

“Duarte, with the help of officials from his administration and other (people), misappropriated state funds in his own benefit and that of his partners,” adds the complaint in the U.S.

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The hearing reached no conclusive results regarding Duarte’s bail release.

The defense has until next Tuesday to deliver the translations of some documents mentioned at the hearing so that the Miami district judge can make a decision.

During a videoconference hearing that lasted for over three hours, Duarte’s lawyers and the U.S. prosecutors presented the arguments to Louis, who must determine if there are “special circumstances” for his release.

Many victims in Mexico
Prosecutor Jason Wu asserted during the hearing that there are no special circumstances to release Duarte on bail for he considers there is “escape risk” and also danger to the community.

Wu stressed Duarte faces “very serious crimes” in Mexico where “there is not only one victim but many: the Chihuahua people.”

He added that a whole community with millions of inhabitants was harmed by the transfers worth over USD $6 million made by the former governor to two companies where he was the majority shareholder.

On the other hand, Wu said “there isn¿t any kind of cooperation” between Duarte and the U.S. government and that the contact between them looks after the former governor’s “own interests” and are not part of any criminal investigation against anyone else.

To stress Duarte was not a fugitive nor was he hiding, his defense had argued he had been “cooperating” with the U.S. government for over three years.

During the hearing, Duarte’s lawyers said that more than a cooperation the fact was that Duarte does not represent an escape risk because he has been “in contact” with U.S. authorities.

Juan Morillo, one of Duarte’s lawyers, stressed that Duarte never hid or changed his name because he was even willing to surrender.

He also mentioned his location in Miami was widely known and mentioned that the former governor had an appointment with Florida migration authorities as part of an asylum request in that country.

In that sense, Morillo added that Duarte has no intentions of fleeing from that country because, among other things, he has three children who are U.S. citizens and all his assets are in that nation because those he has in Mexico are frozen,

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