Photo: Elba Esther Gordillo
The former leader of Mexico’s powerful SNTE teachers union is facing a new trial on tax charges after the judge handling the case refused to accept evidence presented by defense attorneys, judicial officials said.
Elba Esther Gordillo’s initial trial was vacated by an appeals court, which ruled that the lower court judge had violated her due process rights by refusing to accept evidence presented by the defense during the period prescribed by law.
Gordillo’s attorneys will now be able to introduce the evidence to the trial court judge, who will have to rule on whether to admit or reject it.
Gordillo will remain in prison under an order issued by the judge, a move that was approved by the appeals court.
The former union leader faces criminal conspiracy and money laundering charges in a separate case.
Gordillo, who ran the SNTE for more than two decades, was arrested on Feb. 26 on a warrant issued by a judge at the request of the federal Attorney General’s office.
Prosecutors allege that Gordillo, who was considered the most powerful woman in Mexico, used union funds to pay personal expenses.
Gordillo, once described by scholar M. Delal Baer as “Jimmy Hoffa in a dress,” used union funds to pay credit card bills, make purchases at luxury stores, have cosmetic surgery, purchase real estate and cover other spending, prosecutors allege.
The former union boss was expelled from the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in 2006 for helping create the New Alliance Party, or PANAL, which tried unsuccessfully to form a coalition with Enrique Peña Nieto, who won last year’s presidential election.
Prosecutors allege that Gordillo embezzled more than 2 billion pesos ($152 million) in union funds.
Gordillo was arrested a day after Peña Nieto announced education reforms opposed by the SNTE, which has some 1.2 million members and is Latin America’s largest union.