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Mexican drug lord El Chapo set to appeal US extradition

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MEXICO CITY: Lawyers for Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman could file on Tuesday an appeal to prevent his extradition to the United States, arguing he could face the death penalty.

Jose Refugio Rodriguez, one of Guzman’s lawyers, told AFP that the defense team planned to present two challenges to a court in Mexico City.

A “college,” or panel, of judges would then review the appeal but Rodriguez said he would also take the case up to the Supreme Court.

The appeal will be introduced at the same court that rejected a previous legal challenge by the Sinaloa drug cartel leader on October 20.

Guzman is facing two extradition bids, one in California for drug distribution and another in Texas on charges that include murder and money laundering.

When the foreign ministry approved the extradition in May, it said in a statement that the US government had given “enough guarantees that the death penalty will not be applied.”

There is no death penalty in Mexico and in the past the government has criticized the execution of Mexican nationals in the United States.

But Rodriguez said the guarantees were given by the US embassy and “its function is only to present” the extradition document.

“It can’t take decisions for a federal court, which is in charge of imposing sentences,” he said.

“It is very serious that there is no certainty that this pledge will be maintained in the United States and they could apply the death penalty,” the lawyer said.

Guzman’s defense team is also arguing that the charges in California have reached their statute of limitations and that the wrong US embassy official signed the extradition request.

The Mexican government says Guzman could be extradited to the United States in January or February.

The slippery drug lord was recaptured in January, six months after his brazen escape from the Altiplano maximum-security prison through a 1.5-kilometer (one-mile) tunnel that opened in his cell’s shower.

He had previously escaped from another prison in 2001 and was arrested in 2014.

He was taken back to the Altiplano after his January arrest, but was abruptly transferred in May to a prison in Ciudad Juarez, a city bordering Texas.

 

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