Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Morelos attorney general arrested for obstruction in Ariadna López murder

Morelos attorney general Uriel Carmona has been remanded to preventative custody after his dramatic arrest in Cuernavaca, Morelos, on Friday by a team that included police and heavily armed soldiers, sent by neighboring Mexico City.

Carmona is wanted on charges of obstruction of justice in the 2022 femicide case of 27-year-old Ariadna Fernanda López, believed by authorities to have happened in Mexico City.

Uriel Carmona
Carmona will now remain in custody throughout the process of the case against him in order to prevent him from using his position to manipulate or coerce witnesses. (Cuartoscuro)

López, 27 at the time of her death, was found dead on November 2, 2022, by the side of a Morelos highway by a cyclist. She had disappeared from Mexico City on October 30, last seen in a bar-restaurant in the Condesa neighborhood and then finally in an apartment in the Roma Sur area. Later security footage caught a man identified only as Rautel “N.” loading a lifeless body into a car believed to be López’s. 

Rautel “N.” and his girlfriend Vanessa “N.” are considered the main suspects in López’s murder. Both were López’s acquaintances and had been with her at the Condesa establishment the day she disappeared. Rautel “N.” has an apartment in the building where López was last seen alive.

Carmona has been accused of protecting López’s alleged killers. The prosecutor announced in November that a forensic examination determined that the young woman had died from alcohol poisoning. Authorities say he did so despite signs of violence on her body.

A subsequent autopsy by Mexico City authorities found the cause of López’s death to be “multiple traumas” to her body. The case took an even stranger turn when then-Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum spoke out against Carmona, accusing him of protecting a suspect, with whom she said Carmona had close ties.

The murder of Ariadna Fernanda López has been one of the most high-profile recent alleged femicides.
López’s murder received nationwide attention and was the focus of protests seeking justice for her alleged femicide. (Social media)

Following an eight-hour hearing, a judge ordered Carmona placed in preventative detention on the grounds that he could hinder the case and intimidate witnesses given his position as a state prosecutor. 

Ulises Lara, the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office’s spokesperson, said in a press conference that Carmona allegedly obstructed justice by issuing public statements in “a false and malicious manner” that didn’t correspond to investigations. Carmona has denied the charges. 

According to the newspaper Infobae, Carmona’s defense had expected him to be released during the hearing, as Carmona had filed an injunction against attempts by authorities to imprison him or search his home. 

As a state prosecutor, Carmona enjoys judicial immunity, meaning he cannot be tried for most crimes while he holds public office.

Rautel "N" is one of the suspects in a high-profile case: the murder of Ariadna Fernanda López.
Rautel “N” is one of two main suspects López’s murder. Carmona is accused of protecting him by trying to hide López’s cause of death. (FGJ-CDMX via Cuartoscuro.com)

“Regardless of what they are accused of, state prosecutors in Mexico have the right not to be detained,” said constitutional lawyer Sergio Palancares, who noted that while there is a list of serious crimes for which public officials can be detained, obstruction of justice is not one of them. 

“This is an unprecedented event. We are very surprised,” said Rodrigo Ugalde, Carmona’s attorney, emphasizing that Carmona’s arrest is “completely illegal.” 

The Mexico City prosecutor’s office, however, argues that the crime with which Carmona is charged falls under common law and thus the case can proceed, a statement echoed by President López Obrador in his morning press conference on Monday. 

Carmona’s next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7. 

With reports from Infobae, El País and La Jornada

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