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Lawyer for ex-Pemex boss wants Pena Nieto to testify in graft probe

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Lawyer for ex-Pemex boss wants Pena Nieto to testify in graft probe
FILE PHOTO: Emilio Lozoya, former chief Executive Officer of Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) speaks during a news conference at a hotel after he leaves Mexico's attorney general's office, in Mexico City, Mexico August 17, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero   -   Copyright  Henry Romero(Reuters)
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MEXICOCITY (Reuters) – Former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto should be asked to give evidence in defence of ex-Pemex Chief Executive Emilio Lozoya, who is at the heart of a major corruption probe involving the state oil firm, Lozoya’s lawyer said on Wednesday.

The Mexican attorney general’s office says it has issued warrants for several people, including Lozoya, in a probe the government says centres on suspected bribes tied to Pemex’s $475 million purchase of a fertiliser plant from Altos Hornos de Mexico, whose owner was arrested in Spain.

Javier Coello, who is representing Lozoya, said Pemex required approval from the highest levels of government to operate.

“I would even summon President Pena Nieto,” Coello told broadcaster Televisa. “Nothing in this country moved unless there were instructions from the president.”

Coello added that the ministries of finance, economy and energy, which sit on Pemex’s board of administration, would need to give their account of the events in question.

“We will present them with a summons so they can explain why they approved this operation,” the lawyer said.

Lozoya, who has not spoken publicly since the arrest order was announced, has always rejected accusations of wrongdoing against him. Coello said his client was in Mexico and that the burden was on prosecutors to present their case against Lozoya.

“As soon as we have the information, we’ll present our defence,” Coello said.

(Reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Paul Simao)

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