Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - Page 7 News List

‘Virtual judges’ to speed up warrant process in Mexico

URGENT TASKS A group of judges will take turns doing 24 hour shifts to respond online to police requests for preventive arrests and wiretapping

DPA , MEXICO CITY

Amid a soaring number of murders connected to escalating drug gang conflicts, Mexico on Monday launched a system of “virtual” judges who are to respond online and within 24 hours to requests for search warrants, preventive arrests or telephone tapping of organized crime suspects.

The six new “control” judges — five men and one woman — are intended to speed up efforts against crime and work under a cloak of anonymity, Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said.

They will have their headquarters in a high-technology, top-security building in southern Mexico City and the whole country will be under their jurisdiction. They are to respond quickly in favor of or against requests by public prosecutors in relation to organized crime and national security issues,” he said.

The judges are set to each work for 24 hours followed by 48 hours off. Requests, documents and decisions are to be managed online and will go through few hands.

As he launched the program, Medina Mora said it was “indispensable” that requests from public prosecutors and judges’ decisions in the fight against organized crime be kept absolutely confidential.

“[Information leaks] not only endanger the respective investigations, but also put at risk the life and the physical integrity of honest public servants who are committed to the consolidation of the rule of law and the security of all Mexicans,” Medina Mora said.

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