Peas in a pod: ex-governor of Veracruz Javier Duarte, left, and Borge Peas in a pod: ex-governor of Veracruz Javier Duarte, left, and Borge. Both await corruption trials.

Borge to stand trial for corruption charges

Accused of embezzling 900 million pesos, ex-governor held in custody for fear he will flee

Former Quintana Roo governor Roberto Borge was ordered to stand trial and remanded in custody after a lengthy hearing in a federal court that started just hours after he arrived in Mexico City following extradition from Panama.

The ex-governor, who is accused of the use of funds derived from illegal sources, was subsequently transferred to a federal prison in Ayala, Morelos, where he will await trial.

The judge imposed preventative custody on the request of the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR), which argued that Borge was a flight risk. The PGR requested a period of six months to continue its investigation into the ex-governor’s alleged illicit activity.

In a hearing that lasted almost 14 hours in Nezahualcóyotl, México state, Borge appeared underweight and anxious. At decisive moments during the marathon session he clutched a black rosary that hung around his neck.

The court proceedings, which finished at around 6:40am today, began just hours after Borge arrived in the country aboard a Mexican government aircraft from Panama.

The former governor spent 214 days in jail in the Central American nation following his arrest last June while waiting for a commercial airline flight to France.

His defense team argued that he is suffering from reflex syncope, kidney problems and “deep depression” and requested that he be granted permission to seek attention in a specialized medical clinic.

But the judge rejected the request, agreeing with the PGR that Borge could receive the treatment he requires in prison.

The crime of using funds obtained illegally could net a jail term of up to 15 years.

But Borge is also accused of embezzlement and abuse of public office in his home state as well as the evasion of justice after three warrants for his arrest were issued in Quintana Roo, where he served as governor from 2011 to 2016.

Considering the extent and seriousness of the crimes he is accused of, Borge could face a combined prison sentence of more than 38 years.

PGR prosecutors presented 89 pieces of evidence in the hearing and accused Borge of embezzling more than 900 million pesos (US $46.8 million) of public funds through the sale of state land to family and friends at bargain prices.

The sale of lots in locations including Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel were made through shell companies created by a Borge family lawyer. Borge’s mother was one of the alleged beneficiaries of the heavily discounted land prices.

Prosecutors argued that Borge acted with “full awareness” of his crimes and demonstrated “reprehensible behavior that he could have avoided but didn’t.”

Source: Reforma (sp), Milenio (sp)

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