Ayotzinapa case: Israel refuses to extradite Tomás Zerón

Tomás Zerón in an image from January 2015.Tomas Bravo / Reuters

The Government of Israel has refused to extradite Tomás Zerón, former head of the investigation of the Ayotzinapa case, and who has been accused in several processes of torture and embezzlement. Zerón, a fugitive from Mexican justice, has taken refuge in Israel, where he has requested asylum. Although the Executive of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has formally requested the extradition of the former official, the Israeli Government has decided to extend the process, in response to Mexico’s position at the United Nations, which has supported investigations into allegations of war crimes against the Palestinians , as reported this Thursday The New York Times, which quotes a senior Israeli official.

Thomas Zerón

Zerón faces accusations in Mexico for the crimes of torture and forced disappearance when he served as director of the Criminal Investigation Agency, of the defunct Attorney General’s Office (PGR), during the Government of Enrique Peña Nieto. He was in charge of directing the investigations after the attack and disappearance of the normalista students in the state of Guerrero, in 2014. In addition, the Mexican Prosecutor’s Office has accused the former official of the overpriced purchase of vehicles equipped with spying systems, digital platforms intelligence and the construction of a PGR center in Querétaro.

Despite the crimes he is accused of, the Israeli government has shown no interest in advancing the extradition process of Zerón, according to sources cited by The New York Times. “Why should we help Mexico?” A senior Israeli official told the US newspaper. The diplomatic struggle, which according to the newspaper maintains tense relations between Tel Aviv and Mexico City, is given as Israel’s response to the position of the Mexican Government, which has supported the resolutions issued within the UN Human Rights Council to investigate abuses committed by the Israeli Army against the Palestinian population, including the offensive unleashed in Gaza in May. “The official said that Israel had no interest in acceding to Mexico’s extradition request after such hostile measures towards Israel in Geneva.” The reluctance to cooperate with Mexico, said the official, was part of a give-and-take diplomacy initiated during the administration of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “which consists of diplomatically penalizing countries that oppose his government’s policies.” has revealed the American newspaper. THE COUNTRY consulted the Ministry of Foreign Relations about the disclosure of The New York Times, but there was no response to the request for information.

Zerón has requested asylum in Israel, a process that has also remained stalled after Mexico requested his extradition. According to officials consulted by the Times, the Israeli authorities analyze the case of the former official because they consider that “certain aspects of the request” for asylum may be appropriate. “Just as Mexico punishes Israel for crimes it did not commit, according to the official, it may also be persecuting Zerón for political reasons,” the newspaper stated.

Wanted by the Prosecutor’s Office for crimes related to the investigation of the Ayotzinapa case, Zerón had first fled to Canada and then moved to Israel, according to President López Obrador. “There is already notice to your Government that an arrest warrant has already been issued against this man,” said the Mexican president in September. The Prosecutor’s Office also accuses Zerón of the diversion of 1,102 million pesos —85 million dollars at the time — from the budget of the defunct PGR, which were destined to public security expenses.

Zerón is not the only Mexican wanted by the authorities of the North American country who has fled and requested asylum in Israel. In that country there is also the writer and communicator Andrés Roemer, accused of rape and against whom an arrest warrant and a search request have been issued to Interpol. The attorney general of Mexico City, Ernestina Godoy, reported in May that she was preparing to request his extradition to Israel, a country with which Roemer has ties, given his Jewish origin. Mexico does not have an extradition agreement with Israel, which makes it a favorite destination for many fled from justice.

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