Jailed Mexican ex-governor Duarte on hunger strike

Mexico City (AFP) –


Jailed Mexican ex-governor Javier Duarte, who is facing trial for corruption, has launched a hunger strike to protest the way the case against him is being handled, authorities said Friday.

Duarte was governor of the eastern state of Veracruz from 2010 to 2016, when he abruptly resigned and went into hiding -- leaving the once-wealthy state on the verge of bankruptcy.

Arrested in April at a lakeside resort in Guatemala, he was extradited to Mexico last month and is in a Mexico City prison pending trial.

He "formally launched a hunger strike on Thursday... to protest the way the cases against him are being pursued in the city of Veracruz, according to his own account," the Mexico City penitentiary system said in a statement.

It said officials were monitoring his health with medical check-ups three times a day.

The portly ex-governor is accused of links to organized crime and allegedly stole hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds to buy luxury properties, Miami vacation homes and thoroughbred horses.

Duarte, 43, is also known for presiding over an explosion of violence and human rights abuses.

He is one of six Mexican ex-governors under arrest for corruption, fraud, money laundering or racketeering.

Five of the six were members of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), including Duarte, who was expelled from the party after going on the lam.

The scandals have badly damaged President Enrique Pena Nieto and the PRI heading into presidential elections in July 2018.