Mexico tourism secretary resigns


MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's tourism secretary, Oscar Espinosa, resigned Aug. 8 in order to deal with charges that he embezzled $45 million during his tenure as Mexico City mayor from 1995 to 1997.

Under Mexican law, Espinosa had limited immunity from prosecution as a member of the country's cabinet.

In March, Espinosa was accused of embezzlement by Mexico City's chief prosecutor, Samuel del Villar, a member of the capital's opposition-led government.

Espinosa has called the accusations politically motivated.

"I am asking for the right to strip myself of my immunity and clear the way for the justice system, through which my innocence will be established," Espinosa said in a written statement.

Espinosa's resignation came one day after he asked for an indefinite leave of absence from his tourism post in order to defend himself against the accusations.

Prosecutors responded by saying a leave of absence was not enough to strip Espinosa of his immunity, and demanded that the tourism chief resign or be fired.

It was unclear what legal action would be brought against Espinosa, whose case has been transferred to the attorney general's office.

Espinosa was replaced by Hector Flores Santana, the undersecretary for tourism development.

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