Top Mexican official defends metro rail role as deadly collapse probe moves forward


FILE PHOTO: Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard address media following U.S.-Mexico High Level Security Dialogue with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Mexico City, in Mexico October 8, 2021. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Tuesday defended his role in building a metro rail during his time as Mexico City mayor, a day after officials ordered 10 people and companies to face charges for the line's deadly collapse.

The Mexico City Attorney General's office on Monday said it would present charges for homicide, injuries and property damage tied to the May accident, which killed 26 people.

Ebrard, who oversaw the project while serving as mayor between 2006 and 2012, has repeatedly rejected the notion of any wrongdoing in the line's construction, which was found to have significant flaws by an independent auditor.

"It is very difficult for the mayor to supervise ... a consortium with many companies participating. I did what I had to do, otherwise I would not be here, I could not show my face," Ebrard said at a news conference. "Those who are charged will soon present their defenses."

The Attorney General's office, in its statement, did not name the 10 individuals and the legal representatives of companies who have been called to appear before a judge on Oct. 25 to hear charges.

An attorney who said he represented five of the accused people, including Enrique Horcasitas, general director of the Line 12 project under Ebrard, said they were not given adequate time to build a defense before the hearing.

"We are facing an investigation that has been evidently manipulated, that has been biased and that has committed a large number of human rights violations against my clients," attorney Gabriel Regino said in an interview on Tuesday with Mexico's W Radio.

The Attorney General's office last week called on companies to reach settlement deals to avoid lengthy legal processes.

The consortium that built the full line included Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's Grupo Carso, Mexico's Grupo ICA and France's Alstom.

(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Adriana Barrera; Editing by Bill Berkrot, William Maclean)

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