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Former Mexico Prosecutor's Deportation Denied Again


WASHINGTON — A federal judge Wednesday rejected a last-ditch attempt by the U.S. government to deport a former high-ranking Mexican law enforcement official to his homeland for prosecution, increasing chances that he will go free.

Federal authorities, at the behest of the Mexican government, have been struggling for almost a year to send Mario Ruiz Massieu, Mexico's former deputy attorney general, home to face corruption charges.

But U.S. District Judge Maryanne Trump Barry in Newark, N.J., ruled that the deportation bid is based on a vague statute.

She suspended her order freeing Ruiz Massieu until Friday to give the government time to appeal.

Justice Department lawyer David J. Kline told reporters that an appeal will be filed. If appellate judges step in, the Ruiz Massieu case still could be well short of resolution.

Pending an appellate ruling, Ruiz Massieu could remain in custody for two to three more months, attorneys said.

If he is freed, he may remain in the United States until his previously filed application for political asylum is ruled on by a federal immigration hearing officer--which could take up to three years.

Before Wednesday's ruling, Ruiz Massieu won four U.S. court decisions rejecting extradition requests by U.S. and Mexican authorities.

U.S. prosecutors ultimately gave up pressing criminal charges on behalf of Mexico and instead sought Ruiz Massieu's deportation on grounds that his continued presence in the United States "would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences."

In her opinion, Barry said the rarely used "foreign policy" section of U.S. deportation law allowed Ruiz Massieu no meaningful response and called it unconstitutional, "Kafkaesque" and a "breathtaking departure" from other methods of deporting unwanted foreigners.

The criminal case against Ruiz Massieu has been based on charges that he fled Mexico with $200,000 in funds belonging to his government. He is also accused of embezzling other funds, accepting drug traffickers' bribes and obstructing an inquiry into the 1994 assassination of his brother to protect people close to former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

Ruiz Massieu, 45, has denied all the charges.

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