EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A Mexican judge has certified bribery charges against the mayor of Chihuahua City and two other prominent politicians.
The judge’s certification – the first step toward a trial — against Maria Eugenia Campos Galvan was based on 34 receipts she allegedly signed after receiving 8.2 million pesos (U.S. $420,00) from former Chihuahua Gov. Cesar Duarte while she was a member of the Chihuahua legislature.
That money allegedly came from state coffers, as did a 1 million-peso ($51,000) contract her brother signed for non-existent services charged to the state, according to the Chihuahua Attorney General’s Office.
Judge Samuel Uriel Mendoza Rodriguez late Thursday certified the charges against Campos and two alleged co-conspirators, former Mexican congresswoman Maria Avila Serna and former state legislator Rodrigo de la Rosa. They are accused of taking 3.8 million pesos ($195,000) and 2.5 million pesos ($128,000) from Duarte, respectively.
Duarte is in a federal prison in Florida, fighting extradition to Mexico on charges he embezzled more than $100 million while he was governor of Chihuahua from 2010 to 2016. The former governor allegedly tried to cover his tracks by awarding state contracts and making cash payments to politicians and public opinion influencers, according to prosecutors.
The defendants deny the charges and say they are politically motivated.
Campos, who recently took leave of her job to run for governor of Chihuahua, says Chihuahua Gov. Javier Corral is targeting her because he wants to have a hand on who will be his successor. Campos, a former state legislator and Mexican congresswoman popularly known as “Maru,” is leading opinion polls in the governor’s race, according to several surveys published by Mexican media.
“Today’s (decision) does not mean (the judge) agreed with the prosecutor nor that the allegations have been proven,” Campos said Friday on Facebook Live. “I have faith in the judicial system […] This in no way does away with the presumption of innocence on my person. … The formal investigation process is barely beginning.”
Campos said she will not suspend her gubernatorial campaign despite the ruling.
“We are hours away from starting our electoral campaign and I want to tell you they will not stop us,” Campos said. “We will continue to prove in court that the allegations are false. […] You know me, you know I have nothing to hide, nothing to fear and my conscience is clean.”
Although Corral and Campos both belong to the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, the Chihuahua City mayor says the governor would rather concede the state to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s MORENA Party than to let her win. The MORENA candidate is Juan Carlos Loera.
The president was in Juarez last week and met with Corral, putting behind a 2020 feud over water payments to the United States. And a prominent MORENA member, Cruz Perez Cuellar, whom prosecutors also linked to payments from Duarte, has apparently been dropped from prosecution and is now a leading candidate for mayor of Juarez.