After the extradition of Emilio Lozoya (former director of PEMEX) due to accusations related to the Odebrecht case, Mexican authorities used one of the most convulsive moments derived from the COVID-19 pandemic to handle this case irregularly, in opacity and far from public scrutiny. Given this scenario, TOJIL requested to be recognized as a victim of corruption-related crimes to participate in the criminal proceedings and prevent impunity.
In February 2019, Lozoya was arrested in Spain for allegedly receiving bribes for millions of dollars from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. In June of the same year, the prosecutors announced that Lozoya had agreed to be extradited to Mexico, which generated great public interest in knowing his indictment. Finally, in July 2020, Lozoya arrived in Mexico City.
According to the Mexican legislation, Lozoya should have been presented before a federal judge as soon as he arrived in the country. However, his first hearing was irregularly and illegally delayed for almost a month after his extradition. Lozoya was eventually indicted for money laundering, criminal association, and bribery. Unfortunately, due to the conditions imposed by the Federal Judiciary Council during the COVID-19 pandemic, the authorities restricted the publicity of the criminal hearings, and the public could not access the courtroom.
Lozoya and his defense informed that they were negotiating to access a Mexican legal figure called opportunity criterion (similar to a plea bargain), through which a person can be exonerated in exchange for providing information regarding other crimes or other persons indicted for the same crime. Lozoya requested access to this legal figure in exchange for providing information about corruption acts committed by several public officials, including former President Enrique Peña Nieto.
The Mexican legislation explicitly prohibits applying an opportunity criterion in grand corruption cases with a significant public impact and interest. Given this scenario, in July 2020, TOJIL requested to be recognized as a victim of corruption-related crimes and to access the investigation records, arguing that corruption-related acts affect legal assets of a collective nature, mainly that of proper public administration.
In August 2020, the Prosecutor’s Office denied TOJIL’s status as a victim of corruption-related crimes. Consequently, we filed a constitutional complaint. A District Federal Court initially rejected our petition, forcing us to file an appeal. Unfortunately, the Collegiate Court upheld the appealed ruling and prevented society’s participation in the anti-corruption fight by denying us the status of victims in the criminal proceedings.
It has been almost three years since TOJIL started this legal battle, aiming to be recognized as a victim of corruption in Lozoya’s case. The latter would have prevented us from impunity in this significant case by participating in the criminal proceedings. However, we closely monitor the case by attending public hearings and disseminating the case’s development.
Also, in July 2023, TOJIL requested the Control Judge to allow our organization and other human rights organizations remote and live access to the hearings based on General Agreement 12/2020 of the Plenary of the Judiciary Council. The latter would permit us to monitor and guarantee that the case is solved respecting the due process of law and human rights.
Likewise, TOJIL filed an amicus curiae arguing the unconstitutionality of granting Lozoya a plea bargain or opportunity criteria in the present case. Said figures do not apply to Lozoya’s case because the indicted crimes (bribery, criminal association, and operations with resources of illicit origin) can not be condoned by the victims under Mexican law; they are not negligent crimes and are also not patrimonial crimes.