MEXICO CITY: The young wife of accused Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman on Tuesday spoke publicly for the first time since her husband was extradited to the United States last year, voicing concern for his health in solitary confinement.
Emma Coronel, a 28-year-old former beauty queen and mother of the couple’s twin girls, complained after his latest pre-trial hearing in a Brooklyn federal court about being barred from visiting her husband in jail or talking to him by telephone.
Guzman, 61, accused of running the Sinaloa crime syndicate, one of the world’s biggest drug empires, is scheduled to go on trial on September 5.
“I have not seen him in 15 months. I see him in court. I do not have any communication with him, no visits or calls. Only the girls and the lawyers can see him,” she said in Spanish, dressed in tight black pants, a white blouse, high heels and mirrored aviators.
“My concern is your health because I know that you are very bad psychologically… because of what the lawyers have told me, and that’s what worries me. How are you going to reach a good judgment if you are in poor health,” added his wife of 11 years.
Guzman’s defense lawyers have complained repeatedly about the harsh conditions of his detention in solitary confinement since he was handed over to the United States on January 19, 2017, after twice escaping prison in Mexico.
He has been held in solitary confinement in New York, cooped up in a cell 23 hours a day, and has complained repeatedly about his health and conditions of confinement.
Accused of running the Sinaloa Cartel, a powerful criminal syndicate, Guzman is facing 17 charges. If convicted he is likely to spend the rest of his life in a maximum security US prison.
El Chapo’s lawyer, Eduardo Balarezo, refused to let Coronel take questions from the press, and said his client will undergo a new psychological evaluation in the next two weeks. Guzman can speak to his lawyers only through a glass panel.
He greeted his wife with a wave at the beginning and end of Tuesday’s hearing, which heard arguments from the defense and prosecution on whether Guzman’s partial payment of legal fees should be admitted as evidence at trial of drug trafficking.
Judge Brian Cogan deferred a ruling and set the next hearing for May 30. Between 800 and 1,000 people will be earmarked as potential jurors for what is expected to be a three- to four-month trial.
Each of them will have to fill out a questionnaire that will include questions, for example, on their television drama viewing about drug cartels.
From that, the pool will be whittled down to 40, from which the final 12 jurors and six alternates will be selected on the first day of the trial.
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