Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Brother of quake-damaged school’s owner will get 5-million-peso reward

The brother of the owner of a Mexico City school that collapsed in a powerful September 2017 earthquake, killing 19 children and seven adults, will collect a 5-million-peso reward for providing information that led to the arrest of his sister on manslaughter charges.

Mónica García Villegas was arrested at a restaurant in the capital Saturday morning, Mexico City Attorney General Ernestina Godoy told a press conference the same day.

It is alleged that an apartment built on top of the wing of the Enrique Rébsamen school that collapsed had put too much weight on the structure and contributed to the September 19, 2017, tragedy.

García is suspected of colluding with corrupt officials in the borough of Tlalpan to gain permits to build the apartment, which was her residence.

On Monday, the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office (PGJ) formally accused her of falsifying construction permits.

The school owner and principal known as Miss Mónica is currently in preventative custody in a Mexico City prison and will face a court hearing tomorrow which will determine whether she is to stand trial.

Mexico City officials said yesterday that the PGJ will pay 5 million pesos (US $262,300) to a family member of García who has been identified as her half-brother Enrique García because he provided details about his sister’s whereabouts that led to her arrest.

However, that version of events has been called into question by García’s former lawyer.

Javier Coello Trejo said the school’s owner called him on Saturday morning to tell him that she had “turned herself in at government headquarters.”

The lawyer said in an interview that García’s sister-in-law and brother also told him that was the case, adding that he had no reason to lie.

The assertion by Mexico City authorities that García was arrested at 11:28am Saturday at a restaurant in southern Mexico City where she was eating breakfast with her father “doesn’t add up or check out,” Coello charged.

Video footage that purportedly shows García entering a restaurant shows images of a different woman, the lawyer argued.

“She [the woman in the video] is not the teacher [García] and I don’t know the man. How did they die Monica’s hair gray so quickly? Besides, you don’t see the police arresting her . . .” Coello said.

However, if García turned herself in, as the lawyer claims, she would not have been remanded in preventative custody, PGJ officials said.

The newspaper Milenio pointed out that neither involuntary manslaughter nor the use of falsified documents is considered a “serious” crime that warrants preventative prison.

But Carlos Marín, a prominent journalist for the same newspaper, disputes the officials’ claim that García would have been allowed to await the outcome of her legal proceedings in freedom because she was a fugitive for 17 months before her arrest.

“. . . It’s very probably not true because those who evade legal prosecutions are sent to prison because of the understandable presumption that they tend to abscond,” he wrote.

Marín has maintained in his newspaper column that García is innocent.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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