Mexico graft case against ex-ruling party official dropped


MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A judge has dismissed a high-profile corruption case against a former official in Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) centering on alleged misuse of public funds, authorities said on Saturday, paving the way for the man’s release.

The federal attorney general’s office (PGR) and Javier Corral, governor of the northern state of Chihuahua, said the judge had thrown out the case against Alejandro Gutierrez, a onetime PRI finance official who was arrested late last year.

Chihuahua state prosecutors under Corral accused Gutierrez of diverting some 250 million pesos ($13 million) intended for education into PRI campaign coffers in 2016, creating a major scandal ahead of Mexico’s July 1, 2018, presidential election.

Discontent over a string of political corruption scandals helped consign the PRI to a record defeat in the election. The party will exit government at the end of November.

Gutierrez rejected the accusations against him. Lawyers for him could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday.

In a statement, the PGR said the judge made his ruling on Gutierrez late on Friday after federal investigators concluded there was not enough evidence to pursue the case.

Corral, a member of the opposition National Action Party and staunch opponent of the PRI, condemned the decision, saying it was a fresh blow in the fight against corruption.

“The Gutierrez case shows the degree to which the pursuit and administration of justice has deteriorated morally and institutionally in Mexico,” Corral said on Twitter.

The PGR said Corral still had the right to appeal.