The retired Mexican general living on bail in Surrey will undergo a five-day extradition hearing in early 2023.
Eduardo Leon Trauwitz, 55, was arrested last Dec. 17 and held for almost three months. Mexican authorities want him to stand trial on allegations he masterminded a hydrocarbon theft scheme. In May 2019, Trauwitz fled to B.C., instead of appearing in a Mexican court, and applied for Canadian refugee status.
On April 6, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Neena Sharma scheduled the five-day hearing to begin Jan. 16, 2023. Ryan Dawodharry, a lawyer for the federal Crown, told the court that there would also be a July 12-13 hearing for evidence disclosure.
Trauwitz was freed on bail March 14, under conditions he wear an electronic monitoring device and live under an 11 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew at the Surrey home of his daughter, Maria Fernanda Leon. Leon also agreed to put up a $20,000 cash surety. Trauwitz must also report regularly to a probation officer.
The Crown, on behalf of the Mexican government, had argued that Trauwitz was a flight risk. But the original RCMP application for Trauwitz’s arrest was missing key facts about the accused and his case.
Trauwitz is accused of using his job as head of security at state oil company Pemex from January 2015 to August 2016 to facilitate theft of at least 1.87 billion litres of hydrocarbon from clandestine taps in Pemex pipelines. A lawyer for ex-Pemex employees filed a criminal complaint in March 2017 to the office of Mexico’s Attorney General that claimed they were threatened with firing if they did not follow the scheme.
During a Dec. 22 hearing, Trauwitz’s lawyer, Tom Arbogast, told the court that his client was the fall guy and subject to a politically motivated prosecution.
“Mr. Trauwitz was the one who was trying to stop hydrocarbon theft and his actions actually prohibited other corrupt individuals from engaging in carbon theft,” Arbogast said. “They are now turning that back against him because they are higher up in the political food chain.”
Justice Michael Tammen said, before he freed Trauwitz on bail, that the RCMP officer who made the application for Trauwitz’s arrest did not provide full details of Trauwitz’s status in Canada or the potential sentence he could face if convicted in Mexico.
Tammen said the Canadian government lawyers are proceeding on breach of trust by a public official, which is punishable by a maximum five-year sentence in Canada. In Mexico, the range is between two and 14 years in prison. The court was originally told Trauwitz faced a 30-to-60 year sentence.
Tammen said the Crown, on behalf of Mexico, will have to first satisfy the court that the Mexican charges are similar to Canadian laws during the extradition case.