Crime & Justice

Judge rules to prosecute Mexico’s immigration chief over migrant center fire

Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Apr 30 (EFE).- A judge in Mexico decided on Sunday to open a trial against the head of the National Institute of Migration, Francisco Garduño, for his alleged role in a deadly fire at a Mexican government migrant detention center in the border city of Ciudad Juárez at the end of March.

“I am linked to the process, the trial is not over, I continue adhering to the constitutional right to remain silent, not making statements in connection to the process,” the official said at the end of the hearing held at the Federal Criminal Justice Center in Ciudad Juárez.

The NIM chief added that he will continue in his position until decided otherwise, despite criticism of his alleged role in the incident, and closely follow efforts to provide reparations.

Rodolfo Perez Velazquez, Garduño’s lawyer, argued that the official had no criminal responsibility in the incident as he had delegated responsibility for migrant care to other officials.

He also said that the level of evidence was “low” and added that they would file an appeal “not so that the trial is not continued but so that the judge’s ruling in this connection is reviewed.”

The lawyer said that the appeal would be filed in the next 15 days as it was not possible for them to present some evidence such as videos and witnesses.

The public prosecutors have accused Garduño of unlawful exercise of public office for failing to guarantee the safety of the migrants who were at the detention facility.

The judge considered that Garduño disregarded his duties as he was supposed to implement protocols against fires and overcrowding.

Last week, the country’s Interior Secretary, Adán Augusto López, said that reparations will be guaranteed to the families of the 40 migrants who died in the fire on Mar. 27 as well as to those who were injured, at the request of the Guatemalan government.

After the tragedy, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador justified Garduño remaining in his post but said he would take a decision on whether to keep in office or not once the prosecutors’ investigation concludes.

International scrutiny over the role of the Mexican government and NIM has grown after the fire, in which 6 Hondurans, 7 Salvadorans, 19 Guatemalans, 7 Venezuelans and one Colombian died. EFE


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