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Departing Mexican justice likely wants to deal with graft questions -Lopez Obrador

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Departing Mexican justice likely wants to deal with graft questions -Lopez Obrador
FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, May 31, 2019. Picture taken May 31, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero   -   Copyright  HENRY ROMERO(Reuters)
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MEXICOCITY (Reuters) – The Mexican Supreme Court Justice who resigned this week likely did so because of questions about possible financial wrongdoing raised against him, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday.

Justice Eduardo Medina Mora, 62, quit this week more than 10 years before his term was due to end, in the midst of a probe into his financial affairs that was initially started by the government’s financial intelligence unit.

Medina Mora, who in June rejected imputations made against him in a media report that he had engaged in financial irregularities, has yet to comment publicly on why he resigned.

Lopez Obrador was asked to give his opinion on what motivated Medina Mora during a regular news conference.

“I think the justice wants to deal with complaints submitted,” the president said, adding that the complaint was now in the hands of the attorney general’s office.

Lopez Obrador said he had not spoken to Medina Mora about his resignation and would not anticipate the outcome of the attorney general’s work.

He noted, however, that a complaint had been filed and said he had given instructions that whenever information came to light relating to money transfers that could prove suspicious, the attorney general’s office was to be handed the case immediately.

Medina Mora’s exit opens up the possibility of Lopez Obrador nominating a successor who is more sympathetic to the president’s policies than some longer-serving justices.

Critics of the popular 65-year-old president have raised concerns about the independence of the court under his administration, complaints that he has rejected.

Lopez Obrador, who lives frugally and prides himself on his austerity, became embroiled in a stand-off with the court days after taking office. Attacking the judges’ pay, he called them the “best paid public servants in the world.”

In March, the Senate picked the wife of a business ally of Lopez Obrador to fill another vacancy on the court.

Lopez Obrador, who has vowed to root out corruption in Mexico, said in June that the financial intelligence unit had received information on Medina Mora from U.S. authorities.

This information was later passed to the attorney general’s office as per his instructions, Lopez Obrador said.

Medina Mora, a onetime ambassador of Mexico to Britain and later to the United States, was picked for the Supreme Court by former president Enrique Pena Nieto in 2015.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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