Friday, May 24, 2024

Supreme Court orders release of attorney general’s niece

The Supreme Court (SCJN) on Monday ordered the immediate release of the stepdaughter of the federal attorney general’s brother, who was imprisoned for over 500 days on charges of “homicide by omission” for allegedly failing to provide adequate medical care to her stepfather.

The court also dropped the case against Alejandra Cuevas’ nonagenarian mother, Laura Morán, who was also accused of contributing to the death of Federico Gertz Manero, her husband of over 50 years who died in 2015 at the age of 82.

Cuevas, who’s in her late 60s, was immediately released from the Santa Martha Acatitla women’s prison in Mexico City where she spent 528 days after being jailed in October 2020 by a Mexico City court.

The absolution of Cuevas and Morán – the latter avoided imprisonment due to her age – is a “severe blow” for Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero, the newspaper Reforma reported, because “for seven years, he used all the resources at his disposal to pursue them for the death of his brother.”

Telephone conversation recordings leaked earlier this month indicated that Gertz sought to interfere in the work of the SCJN to keep Cuevas in jail.

Supreme Court justice Arturo Saldivar
Supreme Court Chief Justice Arturo Zaldivar during deliberations on Monday.

She and Morán denied any wrongdoing, and their appeals eventually reached the nation’s highest court. In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office (FGJ) accused Cuevas of being a garante accesoria (accessory guarantor) to Federico Gertz Manero’s death — but that legal term doesn’t exist in the capital’s criminal code.

José Luis González Alcántar contended that Cuevas’ treatment by authorities was unjustified and violated her right to personal freedom. He said she would be eligible for compensation in accordance with the General Victims Law.

The FGJ said it respected the SCJN’s decision to release Cuevas and absolve Morán and asserted that it had acted autonomously in the case.

“[The FGJ] does not obey personal interests, doesn’t fabricate culprits or crimes and doesn’t create agreements on the margin of the law,” it said.

This isn’t the first time Gertz has been accused of abusing his authority. In 2021, he was criticized for using the Attorney General’s Office to attempt to arrest 31 members of the Scientific and Technological Advisory Forum (CCCyT), who were all formerly employed by the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt). Gertz accused the members of embezzlement of public funds, carrying out operations with resources of illicit origin, engaging in organized crime and making illicit use of their positions.

However, the FGR’s three attempts to obtain warrants for the forum members’ arrest were rejected by the courts and widely seen as without merit and part of a federal government campaign to discredit and silence academics critical of Conacyt’s management. The federal government has cut funding for science and other academic endeavors. President López Obrador has generally charged that corruption was allowed to flourish in academia during previous administrations.

Alejandra Cuevas Moran and her children
Alejandra Cuevas, right, with her children, who fought for her release. File photo

Speaking to reporters outside the Santa Martha Acatitla jail Monday, Cuevas asserted that the attorney general falsely accused her of the crime of “homicide by omission” and charged that his aim was to have her spend the rest of her life behind bars.

“I am certain that without [the media] Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero would have buried me in jail forever for a crime that he fabricated, causing irreparable damage to my family and to my life.”

She said her life changed 528 days ago, noting that she heard an “endless number” of cases of injustice while living with other incarcerated women.

“… Since I entered, I realized that all women are invisible. Together with you, we will achieve their freedom,” she said.

“If you allow me, I’ll get into the car because I want to hug my mother — I haven’t seen her for 528 days — and my children, to whom I pay great tribute because what they have done for me is unprecedented.”

With reports from Reforma 

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