Mexico’s ex-governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte, has been charged with money laundering and illicit association, and faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted.
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Mexico’s Public Prosecuting Office (PGR) presented the new charges against Duarte on Wednesday following a year-long investigation, explaining that the evidence was "not enough to prove the organized crime charges that had been initially presented."
Media, both local and international, were quick to point out that the reclassification of the charges could mean Duarte will be freed from pre-trial detention until the trial commences.
Allegations against Duarte have mounted since he voluntarily left office in October 2016. Prosecutors presented enough evidence to link him to a money laundering network that funneled about US$20 million into his pocket. He was later expelled from the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) and fled to Guatemala.
Duarte was arrested in April 2017 after five months on the run in Guatemala at a hotel in Panajachel, a village on the shores of Lake Atitlan. He was extradited after being held in a military prison in Guatemala City, and if convicted faces up to 40 years in prison for money laundering plus up to 10 years for illicit association.