22 March 2009

Union boss wins injunction


Union boss wins injunction


A union boss living in self-imposed exile in Canada has won an injunction against his apprehension, the mining union said in a Sunday press release.

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia fled to Canada in 2006 to avoid arrest on charges of fraud and embezzlement, but a decision by a panel of judges in Mexico City has granted an injunction against three apprehension orders that previously had been issued by courts in the capital and in Sonora.

Gómez Urrutia was alleged to have improperly dissolved a $55 trust fund that was created after the privatization of the Cananea copper mine in Sonora. Dissidents in a Chihuahua-based cooperative allege that they did not grant permission for the union to dissolve the trust fund on their behalf and say that the money has been mismanaged.

The mining union denies the allegations and says that the money can be accounted for.

Mexican officials in February asked for the extradition of Gómez Urrutia, who has received support while living in Vancouver with his family from the United Steelworkers Canada and the left-wing New Democratic Party.

The union alleges that the government has been carrying out a revenge campaign against Gómez Urrutia on behalf of mining giant Grupo México, owner of the Cananea mine, where a strike has dragged on since July 30, 2007. Grupo México has rejected any claims of revenge.

Two senior union officials said to be close Gómez Urrutia collaborators were arrested in December. Juan Linares was arrested in Michoacán on charges related to the trust fund, while Carlos Pavón was arrested for the alleged extortion of a smelter operator in Coahuila state. Both men maintain their innocence. Pavón has been released on bail.

UPDATE: The Attorney General's Office, or PGR, released a statement saying that Gómez Urrutia is still a fugitive and that the apprehension order used to seek his extradition was not among the three that the union leader won injunctions against.

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