President Enrique Pena faced criticism Tuesday for having a possible conflict of interest in his nominations for attorney general and Mexico’s highest court.
The accusation struck a raw nerve because they involve the top two posts in a criminal justice system widely perceived as corrupt and inefficient.
Critics blasted Pena Nieto’s choice of Arely Gomez to replace Jesus Murillo Karam as attorney general because she’s the sister of top Televisa news executive Leopoldo Gomez.
Pena Nieto has been criticized for close ties to the television giant, including his marriage to a top star, first lady Angelica Rivera. Rivera acknowledged last year that she made $10 million from Televisa the year she retired and received a house from the television network.
Leopoldo Gomez denied in a newspaper column Tuesday that he had any influence over his sister’s career.
“Nobody can supply one single piece of evidence that links my career and hers,” Leopoldo Gomez wrote. “We are united by blood. But we each have our own careers.”
Pena Nieto was also criticized for nominating Mexico’s ambassador to the United States for a vacant seat on the Supreme Court.
Opponents say Ambassador Eduardo Medina Mora filed legally questionable cases while attorney general from 2006-2009, many later thrown out because of procedural problems, unreliable witnesses or insufficient evidence.
Under Medina Mora, federal prosecutors arrested 12 mayors and 23 other officials in the western state of Michoacan in 2009 on charges they aided a drug gang. All 35 were later acquitted and released.
A purge of allegedly corrupt federal law enforcement officials also carried out under Medina Mora’s watch later fell apart. Almost all of those implicated — many by apparently unreliable secret witnesses — were acquitted or had charges against them dismissed.
Medina Mora defended his attorney general term before a Senate committee evaluating the three nominees for the one Supreme Court position now open.
“Certainly there are lessons that must be learned,” Medina Mora said about his office’s use of secret witnesses, who are usually in a federal protection program and whose names are withheld from court proceedings.