A Mexican court has confirmed the release of the former mayor of Tijuana, Jorge Hank Rhon, after rejecting an appeal by prosecutors to overturn his acquittal on weapons charges.
Hank was arrested by the Mexican army on June 4 along with 10 of his bodyguards. He faced charges of illegally possessing 88 guns and more than 9,000 rounds of ammunition, which were found in his home.
However, Federal Court Judge Alejandro Rodriguez Escobar on Thursday upheld a June 13 ruling to release Hank along with his 10 co-defendants, citing a lack of evidence to prosecute them for possession of illegal firearms.
He also ruled in agreement with an earlier decision that the raid at Hank’s home was conducted without a warrant, making any evidence gathered inadmissible.
The Federal Judicial Council noted several inconsistencies regarding the circumstances, times, distances and locations given by the military regarding the arrest of Hank and his bodyguards.
A failed attempt was made by prosecutors to hold Hank in relation to his possible involvement in the 2009 killing of his son’s ex-girlfriend, and authorities will continue to investigate his involvement in the crime.
Hank, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional – PRI), is one of Mexico’s richest men and owner of a sports betting company. He has long been accused of having close links with the Tijuana Cartel, although the allegations remain unproven. His release came as a significant setback for President Felipe Calderon’s fight against organised crime.