Italy’s Supreme Court yesterday rejected Mexico’s request to extradite former Tamaulipas governor Tomás Yarrington, citing inadequate conditions in Mexico’s prisons for his transfer due to chronic, constant and systematic human rights violations.
Judges subsequently returned the case to the Florence Court of Appeal for further evaluation of the deficiencies of the Mexican prison system.
The ex-governor was arrested in Florence in April 2017 and is wanted in both Mexico and the United States on corruption and drug trafficking charges.
The Florence Court of Appeal approved Yarrington’s extradition in September but his legal team launched an appeal.
The ex-governor’s lawyer had previously stated that his client would be put at risk of inhumane and degrading treatment if he were sent to a Mexican prison.
Luca Marafioti said it will now be up to Italian Justice Minister Andrea Orlando to decide whether to approve another extradition request, this one from the United States.
Orlando has 45 days to make the decision, but political uncertainty following a general election in March in which no party won an outright majority could be a barrier to an early one.
If no conclusion is reached within that period, Yarrington must be released under Italian law.
Yarrington was the governor of the northern border state between 1999 and 2005, representing the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
In 2012, a federal judge issued two warrants for his arrest on charges of organized crime and drug-trafficking. The following year he was also indicted in Texas on racketeering, money laundering and fraud charges.
The ex-governor allegedly had links to the Gulf and Zetas drug cartels and is accused of accepting large bribes from both.
Yarrington became a fugitive from justice in 2012 and Interpol issued a red notice for his arrest.
However, it wasn’t until 2016 that Mexico’s Attorney General’s office stepped up its search efforts for Yarrington and posted a reward of 15 million pesos (US $823,000 at today’s exchange rate) for information leading to his arrest.