Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: presidencia.gob.mx

PULSE NEWS MEXICO

One day after Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN) ruled against his jail-no-bail policy to imprison anyone charged with white-collar crimes, such as embezzlement or tax evasion, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) on Friday, Nov. 23, ordered his Security and Citizen Protection Secretariat (SSPC) to disobey the mandates of judges, calling the ruling “an act of political sabotage.”

During his daily press conference on Friday, AMLO, who has long been at loggerheads with the SCJN and other independent government organizations that were put in place to balance executive powers in Mexico, stated that he had “already instructed officials to ignore the judges’ resolutions.”

The president went on to say that he had ordered the SSPC to respond in writing to all and any release orders for alleged white-collar criminals currently being held without bail, arguing that they have “other data” on the purported charges or proceedings against those defendants and thus preventing them from being released from prison.

By law, the SSPC is responsible for overseeing Mexico’s federal prison system and control over the operation of all prison facilities.

Since taking office in December 2018, AMLO has used his self-decreed powers to imprison his political enemies on trumped-up charges of tax evasion and corruption, often leaving them to sit in jail without trial for years, a policy that has been staunchly condemned by human rights groups both in Mexico and around the globe.

Last week, AMLO also attacked the SCJN and other judicial officials, whom he claimed have manipulated legal judgments by passing rulings at the end of the workweek or over weekends and holidays, likewise calling these officials corrupt and demanding that they be investigated and imprisoned themselves.

Since trials in Mexico can take years to wind their way through the legal system, the SCJN voted against mandatory pre-trial detention for people accused of fraud, smuggling or tax evasion, arguing that detention during trial was the equivalent to being subjected to punishment before being convicted.

The court did leave in a caveat allowing prosecutors with valid concerns of the accused person’s possible flight risk or other issues to override the ruling, and AMLO said that the SSPC should exploit that exception.

In 2019, López Obrador imposed mandatory pretrial detention for most white-collar crimes.

Trying to paint the SCJN judges as shameless villains trying to undermine his so-called fight against corruption, AMLO asked rhetorically, “How can judges, magistrates and justices be defending white-collar criminals? How can it be that money triumphs over justice?”

López Obrador has consistently fought Mexico’s courts, often attacking their legitimacy and singling out individual judges for ridicule when they have opposed some of his pet initiatives, mostly on the grounds that his decrees violated the Mexican Constitution.

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