After a hearing that lasted more than 12 hours, a judge ruled early Tuesday morning that a high-ranking cabinet official from the administration of former president Enrique Peña Nieto be held in preventative custody as she awaits trial on corruption charges.
Judge Felipe de Jesús Delgadillo Padierna decided that Rosario Robles, who served as both social development secretary and agrarian development and urban planning secretary under Peña Nieto, poses a flight risk.
She will be held in the Santa Marta Acatitla jail in Mexico City for at least two months while the investigation against her goes ahead.
Prosecutors had asked Judge Delgadillo to lock Robles up for six months.
In her defense, Robles said she does not have the financial resources to flee, and noted that she had returned from abroad to face justice.
The Attorney General’s Office says that through omission, Robles allowed over 5 billion pesos (US $258 million) to be misappropriated from the federal budget while she was leading the two secretariats.
The scheme was carried out through allegedly phony contracts with universities and shell companies as part of the so-called “Master Fraud.” Robles faces up to 23 years in prison.
Robles’ defense attorney, Óscar Ramírez, said that while she was a cabinet secretary, Robles had detected possible irregularities in the budgets of the departments she was leading and reported them to then-president Peña Nieto several times.
The defense presented proof of the claims, including a document prepared by Robles for José Antonio Meade, who took over as social development secretary in 2015. The document alerts Meade to the irregularities and a related investigation by auditors.
“She informed the incoming secretary, which means that omission is not the issue here,” said Ramírez.