Mex­i­can law­maker-elect is sworn in af­ter evad­ing po­lice

He is now im­mune from pros­e­cu­tion on 2009 charges of ties to drug traf­fick­ers.

Los Angeles Times - - The World - Ken Ellingwood re­port­ing from Mex­ico City

For days, Mex­i­can po­lice ringed Congress in an odd cat-and-mouse game, try­ing to catch Julio Ce­sar Godoy be­fore he could get in­side to take of­fice as a fed­eral deputy. The mouse won. On Thurs­day, Godoy popped up in­side Congress and was quickly sworn in by the pres­i­dent of the Cham­ber of Deputies, thus gain­ing im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion on 2009 drug-traf­fick­ing charges.

Godoy, a mem­ber of the left­ist Demo­cratic Revo­lu­tion Party, or PRD, from the western state of Mi­choa­can, was elected to Congress in July 2009. But he dis­ap­peared af­ter fed­eral au­thor­i­ties ac­cused him of hav­ing ties to the vi­o­lent drug-traf­fick­ing group known as La Fa­milia.

The fed­eral charges cost Godoy, a lawyer, his right to take of­fice, and Congress ruled then that he could not be sworn in un­til he “re­solves his ju­di­cial sit­u­a­tion.” In any case, Godoy did not show up when Congress opened in Septem­ber 2009.

A judge this month re­stored Godoy’s po­lit­i­cal rights, though the govern­ment’s drug charges stand. The de­ci­sion al­lowed Godoy to take his con­gres­sional seat, which en­ti­tles him to im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion un­less Congress de­nies him that pro­tec­tion.

Godoy up­held his in­no­cence Thurs­day dur­ing a con­tentious news con­fer­ence.

He claimed to have walked in the front door of Congress, but jour­nal­ists dis­puted that. Some re­ports said Godoy was driven into the com­plex.

Godoy, who is the half brother of Mi­choa­can Gov. Leonel Godoy, said it was up to fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors to ask Congress to strip his im­mu­nity.

“I am no crim­i­nal,” Godoy said.

Shortly af­ter Godoy won elec­tion, au­thor­i­ties ac­cused him of pro­vid­ing pro­tec­tion Pre­vi­ous cov­er­age of Mex­ico’s drug war is avail­able on­line. to La Fa­milia.

The con­gress­man-elect dis­ap­peared from view and is­sued no state­ments. In his news con­fer­ence, Godoy, wear­ing a jacket and tie and shorn of his mus­tache, said he was at home the whole time.

The charges against Godoy last year came weeks af­ter 30 may­ors and other func­tionar­ies, mostly PRD mem­bers, were ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of hav­ing ties to the traf­fick­ers. Five other of­fi­cials were later ar­rested. Of the 35 peo­ple de­tained, all but seven have been re­leased.

At the time, PRD lead­ers la­beled the roundup as an elec­tion-eve stunt by con­ser­va­tive Pres­i­dent Felipe Calderon, a charge the ad­min­is­tra­tion de­nied.

On Thurs­day, the newly minted con­gress­man joined his party’s cho­rus.

“This at­tack is not against Julio Ce­sar Godoy,” Godoy said. “This at­tack is an in­stru­ment the fed­eral govern­ment is us­ing to at­tack our party and to win the state of Mi­choa­can.” ken.ellingwood @latimes.com

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