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The car in which the two newlyweds died. The car in which the two newlyweds died.

Prosecutors’ errors could see jailed soccer player go free: expert

Ex-security official says either incompetence or corruption may have affected the case

A professional soccer player who was placed in preventative custody after being arrested for causing the deaths of two people in a car accident in Guadalajara could go free due to mistakes by the Jalisco Attorney General’s Office (FGE).

Twenty-year-old Joao Maleck, a Guadalajara native who most recently played for Spanish club Sevilla Atlético, was arrested following a June 23 accident in the Villas del Tepeyac neighborhood of Zapopan, part of the metropolitan area of the Jalisco capital.

A recently married couple were killed after the vehicle in which they were traveling was hit by a car driven by Maleck, who was under the influence of alcohol when the accident occurred.

At a June 28 hearing, prosecutors said that Maleck was driving at 70.7 kilometers per hour in a 40-km/h zone. However, lawyers for the accused said that because there are no speed limit signs in the area, the maximum speed is 50 km/h.

As Maleck was not traveling more than 30 kilometers per hour above the limit, speed cannot be considered an aggravating circumstance in the culpable homicide case, the lawyers argued.

Professional soccer player Maleck.
Professional soccer player Maleck.

Five hours after the 9:00am accident, Maleck was tested for alcohol, which was only detected in his urine and not his blood. The accused’s lawyers argued that the consumption of alcohol can only be considered an aggravating circumstance in a crime if alcohol is found in a person’s bloodstream.

A judge upheld the lawyers’ arguments, ordering the defendant to stand trial on charges of culpable homicide with no aggravating circumstances. He set a period of two months for authorities to prepare their case after ruling that there was insufficient evidence to convict him at that time.

But Gabriel Regino, a former undersecretary in the Mexico City Security Secretariat, believes that the FGE should have already gathered the evidence they need, charging that if officials didn’t carry out the “proper processes” during the initial investigations into the accident, it was due to either “incompetence” or “corruption.”

He also said the slow pace at which the FGE is managing the case suggests that evidence may have been altered, including proof that Maleck had been drinking. A witness claimed that bottles of alcohol were removed from Maleck’s car after the accident.

Regino also rejected the judge’s ruling that alcohol consumption was not a factor in the accident.

“If he was intoxicated when the accident occurred, that’s an aggravating circumstance,” he said.

The former security official said if the Jalisco Attorney General’s Office doesn’t prove that alcohol was an aggravating circumstance, the door would open for the soccer player’s lawyers to seek a compensation agreement with the victims’ families, although they have said that they won’t accept a single peso.

However, if they changed their minds and did agree to a monetary settlement, the accused could avoid a jail sentence.

Regino charged that rather than the “good defense” of his lawyers, what has helped Maleck the most “are the errors of the Attorney General’s Office, which have been very clear.”

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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