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Judge rules that jailed union boss will face trial

March 5, 2013

A federal judge ruled on Monday that there is sufficient evidence to try former teachers’ union boss Elba Esther Gordillo for money laundering and organized crime.

Gordillo, who headed the powerful National Teachers’ Union (SNTE) for 23 years until her arrest last week, stands accused of embezzling nearly two billion pesos of union funds.

Judge Alejandro Caballero Vertiz said that the evidence presented by prosecutors against Gordillo and three other defendants was strong enough to merit trial and continued incarceration.

If convicted, Gordillo, 68, could face up to 30 years in prison, plus a hefty fine, although under Mexican law she could apply for a move from prison to house arrest upon turning 70. Gordillo has previously claimed that she inherited her wealth and her defense lawyers maintain that she is innocent.

Having been detained last Tuesday and taken to the Santa Martha Acatitlato women’s prison in Mexico City, Gordillo was transferred to a different prison on Friday to receive treatment for several health problems.

Gordillo, who reportedly suffers from high blood pressure, kidney failure, hepatitis C, diverticulosis and cerebral aneurysm, sought private medical care, but upon hearing the diagnosis of prison doctors, a judge ruled that she be treated at the health center in the Tepepan women’s prison, also in Mexico City.

A prison spokesperson said she will receive no special privileges and had been transferred solely because of medical recommendations.

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