The former director of Pemex Emilio Lozoya will remain in jail for the ‘Odebrecht case’

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The then director of Pemex, Emilio Lozoya, during the World Bank conference in Mexico City, in June 2015.
The then director of Pemex, Emilio Lozoya, during the World Bank conference in Mexico City, in June 2015.Susana Gonzalez (Bloomberg)

The former director of Pemex Emilio Lozoya will remain in preventive detention for the Odebrecht case. In the review hearing of the precautionary measure held on Wednesday afternoon in the North Prison, Judge Artemio Zúñiga has ruled that “by not having changed the conditions that served as the basis for establishing the precautionary measures previously imposed, he remains in prison justified preventive. This diligence was the last obstacle between the former official and the possibility of continuing the criminal proceedings against him in freedom, under the figure of house arrest. In the end, Lozoya has lost this battle.

The review hearing on the precautionary measure began at 2:27 p.m. this Wednesday, in anticipation of the defense, the authorities and dozens of media outlets. The diligence was carried out by videoconference due to the pandemic. The judge, the Prosecutor’s Office, the representatives of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and Pemex linked up remotely, while Lozoya appeared in the courtroom together with one of his lawyers.

The path to the freedom of the former official seemed to have been paved after hours before a court dismissed the amparo suit presented by the FIU against the ruling that eliminated the preventive detention of the accused by the Agronitrogenated case. Last week a judge withdrew this precautionary measure against the former oil director and placed him one step away from his freedom.

After the ratification of Judge Zúñiga, who last November had already given him preventive detention, Lozoya will remain in prison while the criminal proceedings against him are defined for the millionaire bribes he allegedly received from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht and the overpriced purchase of a Agronitrogenated fertilizer plant will continue in progress. In the first case, the Prosecutor’s Office has already asked the judge to be brought to trial, found guilty and sentenced to up to 39 years in prison. For the matter of the factory in Veracruz, supposedly purchased at a premium from the steel company Altos Hornos de México (AHMSA), the Public Ministry has requested a 15-year prison sentence for one of the then president’s most trusted men. Enrique Pena Nieto.

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The Odebrecht corruption scandal broke out in Mexico in December 2016 when representatives of the construction company confessed to having paid $10.5 million in bribes to senior officials of a company controlled by the Mexican state. After the change of government and the arrival of Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the presidency, the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) promised to take the Odebrecht case to the courts.

The confirmation of the preventive detention is a setback for the former PRI official and a victory for the Prosecutor’s Office, who since the beginning of the accusations has maintained that they have sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the former director received more than nine million dollars in bribes from of the Brazilian construction company. A money that he hid thanks to a network of companies and properties in collaboration with his relatives.

The recent resolution of the federal judge opens another chapter in the legal journey that has persecuted Lozoya since February 2020, when the former director of the oil company was arrested in Spain and later extradited to Mexico. At that time, the former official took advantage of a legal figure known as the opportunity criterion that allowed him to become a kind of protected witness and thus have certain benefits, for example, taking his process to his home. A controversial photo of him in an exclusive restaurant in Mexico City precipitated the fall of the former official in prison last November, a seclusion in which he will continue for the next few months.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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