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mexico city metro

Line 12 project chief among 10 facing homicide accusations over Metro collapse

Lawyer for five of the accused charges political persecution by the city

A former Mexico City government official who was in charge of the project to build Line 12 of the capital’s Metro system is among 10 ex-functionaries who will face homicide charges in connection with the May 3 overpass collapse that killed 26 train passengers and injured 98 others.

The Mexico City Attorney General’s Office (FGJ) has not publicly named the ex-officials who will also face injury and property damage charges but part of its file on the case was leaked Monday.

Enrique Horcasitas, former director of Proyecto Metro, the agency responsible for managing construction of Line 12 during the 2006-12 Mexico City government led by current Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, is the most prominent figure accused of homicide by the FGJ, which first announced it was pursuing charges last week.

Most of the other nine accused were also high-ranking officials who worked on the project, an elevated section of which collapsed on the night of May 3, causing two train carriages to plunge toward a busy road in Mexico City’s southeast.

Gabriel Regino, a lawyer for five of the accused, including Horcasitas, claimed Monday that the case against his clients amounted to political persecution, an accusation rejected by the FGR.

“This prosecutor’s office has conducted a robust, transparent investigation in accordance with the law and based on evidence. In no way does it obey political orders nor does it seek the … protection of culprits,” said FGJ spokesman Ulises Lara.

He also said the accused will have full access to the FGJ’s file against them once they have been summoned to appear in court. An initial hearing is scheduled to take place next Monday.

Speaking at a press conference, Regino rejected the FGJ’s finding that shoddy construction, including poorly placed metal studs in the overpass and deficient welding, was the main cause of the disaster.

The lawyer said that negligence in the maintenance of the collapsed structure and claims that the line was overburdened with ballast during the government of former Mexico City mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera (2012-18) must be investigated further.

Regino said he will file criminal complaints against Mancera and former Metro chiefs Jorge Gaviño and Jorge Jiménez Alcaraz for their alleged culpability for the accident.

“… We’re not going to allow arbitrariness, we’re not going to allow the continued use of scapegoats in Mexico City,” he said.

The FGJ is seeking to prosecute former public servants who have no connection to the events of May 3, Regino said.

“Our clients from Proyecto Metro were not responsible, neither administratively nor legally … for the construction of the project because companies that are perfectly identified were hired for that,” he said, referring to a consortium of firms that included Mexican firm Ingenieros Civiles Asociados, Carlos Slim’s Carso Infrastructure and Construction and French rail company Alstom.

Ebrard, who has denied any wrongdoing and suggested the overpass collapse could be linked to insufficient maintenance after a powerful earthquake in 2017, defended himself once again on Tuesday.

“It is very difficult for the mayor to supervise … a consortium with many companies participating. I did what I had to do, otherwise I would not be here, I could not show my face,” he told President López Obrador’s regular news conference.

With reports from Milenio and El País 

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