Mexico arrests ex-governor in journalist torture case


Mario Marín, who governed the central state of Puebla from 2005 to 2011 for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, was arrested on Wednesday in Acapulco and transported to a jail in Cancun

The arrest of a former Mexican governor on charges that he ordered the torture of a journalist gave hope to activists who believe the case could reveal the ties between powerful businessmen, politicians and organised crime and strike a blow against Mexico’s notorious impunity.

Mario Marín, who governed the central state of Puebla from 2005 to 2011 for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, was arrested on Wednesday in Acapulco and transported to a jail in Cancun. He is charged with human rights violations in relation to the illegal arrest and torture of journalist Lydia Cacho, who, in her 2005 book, had detailed the role of other powerful men in a pedophilia ring that preyed on young girls.

The press freedom organisation Artículo 19, which is representing Cacho, said Marín could face up to 12 years in prison for the charge of torture if convicted.

In a court appearance on Thursday, Marín, 66, requested to wait out the process under house arrest, citing problems with his kidneys and fear of catching COVID-19 in jail. The judge denied the request, Artículo 19 said via Twitter.

According to Artículo 19 lawyer Leopoldo Maldonado, there is sufficient evidence against Marín, including recorded telephone conversations. He said the fact that the judge denied his request for house arrest was a good initial sign.

Marín’s trial could be a “watershed” that “cracks open the impunity pact that has prevailed in Mexico for decades”, Maldonado said.

Cacho’s “The Demons of Eden” detailed the exploitation of girls and accused powerful textile magnate José Kamel Nacid of buying girls for USD 3,000. Nacif sued Cacho for defamation and asked his friend Marín to have her arrested.

Cacho recalled on Thursday in an interview with W Radio that Marín gave the order for her to be tortured so that she would recant everything she had published. In December 2005, Marín sent police to arrest Cacho in Cancun and drive her to Puebla. During that 20-hour drive, she was tortured.

“He is the first governor arrested for acts of torture against journalists and linked, furthermore, with a ring of trafficking girls and boys,” Cacho said.

Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero recognised on Thursday that when she was a Supreme Court justice, there were “violations” of Cacho’s rights and she spoke of “psychological torture” that endured. She added that the presumption of innocence against Marín must be maintained to ensure a fair trial.

Evidence gathered by Cacho contributed to the 2004 arrest of businessman Jean Succar Kuri in the United States. He is serving a sentence for child pornography in the same Cancun jail where Marín is being held.

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