MEXICO CITY — A lawyer for Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman said Monday he will argue that his client has been the victim of torture.
Attorney Jose Refugio Rodriguez said the convicted Sinaloa cartel boss’ legal team has submitted evidence of alleged abusive treatment of Guzman in prison.
“Cruel and unusual treatment is torture,” Rodriguez said.
Guzman’s lawyers have complained in the past that he is not being allowed to sleep, mix with other prisoners or receive enough visits. They said that caused him anxiety and elevated his blood pressure to dangerous levels.
The government says special security measures are needed following Guzman’s escape from the maximum-security Altiplano prison near Mexico City in 2015, when he fled through a mile-long tunnel dug to the floor of his shower. That was his second prison break.
After Guzman was recaptured in January, prison authorities woke him every few hours for head counts but later softened that security procedure.
Lawyers have filed appeals seeking to prevent Guzman’s extradition to the United States, where he faces drug-trafficking, money-laundering, weapons and murder charges. The torture allegations are not related to those appeals.
Also Monday, a judge postponed issuing a ruling on the extradition appeals at a hearing.
Another of Guzman’s lawyers, Andres Granados, said it could take up to three months before there is a decision. Either side could then appeal.
Guzman is currently being held in a federal prison on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, Texas.
However he has won an initial judgment in favor of sending him back to the Altiplano lockup, which is closer to where hearings in his case are being held.
A federal official who was not authorized to be quoted by name and spoke on condition of anonymity said prosecutors have appealed that decision.