A warrant was issued Saturday for the arrest of the chancellor of the Autonomous University of Morelos (UAEM) but authorities have been unable to locate him.
Alejandro Vera Jiménez, who is accused of illicit enrichment, will now be sought beyond national borders, Mexico’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor said.
Juan Salazar Núñez made the announcement in view of the possibility that Vera and his wife, María Elena Ávila Guerrero, may have fled the country. Ávila is also wanted for involvement in corrupt activity.
Salazar Núñez, who heads the anti-corruption division of the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR), denied that either the investigation into the rector or an attempt to detain him and his wife were politically motivated, which is what Vera’s lawyer has charged.
Officers from the PGR’s Criminal Investigation Agency (AIC) attempted to apprehend Vera and Ávila at 2:15am Sunday at their home in a country club residential development just outside Cuernavaca, but were unable to find either.
“In response to deceitful indications without any substance, I want to make it clear that there are no political motives but rather criminal acts of corruption that are . . . related to . . . what they have called the great fraud,” Salazar said.
He was presumably referring to the diversion of more than 3.4 billion pesos from 11 federal government agencies by using shell and illegal companies as well as universities to channel the funds.
One of the universities implicated in the scheme labelled “the master fraud” was the Cuernavaca-based university that Vera heads.
Vera’s lawyer, who was at his client’s address when authorities arrived, assured Grupo Fórmula that Vera has not gone into hiding but simply wasn’t at home at the time of the raid.
“. . . I allowed them to enter and asked them what it was they were looking for, then they said that they had an arrest warrant for the rector and his wife. They came in and checked all the areas of the house and even the garden but fortunately they were not there,” César García said.
The lawyer went on to claim that if authorities wanted to question Vera further they would have to trust his word that his client would agree to appear on his own volition.
“We have nothing to hide, the rector is going to appear. I ask the authorities of Morelos [and] especially the anti-corruption prosecutor that they withdraw the arrest warrant and I will commit myself to hand him over in a voluntary manner,” he said.
García made it clear that if the warrant was not removed, he would do the opposite.
“I’m not going to hand him over because we don’t trust the [anti-corruption] prosecutor’s office and we don’t trust the Superior Court of Justice,” he said.
García also said that Vera’s fundamental rights including due process had been violated and that neither he nor his client had been given access to the file which detailed the accusations against the chancellor. He also said the crime his client is accused of does not warrant preventative custody.
“We are in [a state of] total defenselessness, we . . . have no document to know how we are going to defend ourselves,” he said.
Salazar has made it clear that the arrest warrant will not be withdrawn and stated that there was enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial. He also said the warrant, issued by a judge on Saturday, was a precautionary measure because if Vera is allowed to remain free, there is a possibility that evidence could be destroyed or modified.
The Federal Auditor’s Office has previously filed criminal complaints against UAEM for spending irregularities involving nearly 700 million pesos. Vera went on a hunger strike in September last year to pressure the federal government to allocate more funds to the university, an act that was ultimately successful.
Source: Milenio (sp)