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Mexican teacher union leader cleared of corruption charges

A FORMER leader of Mexico’s biggest teaching union has been cleared of all charges after spending nearly five years in jail awaiting trial for alleged corruption.

Elba Esther Gordillo was granted “absolute and immediate freedom” by a federal court, her lawyer announced on Wednesday, after it had ruled that there were insufficient grounds to proceed with the case filed against her by Mexico’s attorney general.

Ms Gordillo was accused of embezzling $200 million (£155m) from the National Educational Workers Syndicate (SNTE). She was alleged to have blown the money on plastic surgery, property and a private jet.

Commonly know as “La Maestra” (the Teacher), Ms Gordillo spent nearly five years behind bars before being released and placed under house arrest in December.

She was arrested in 2013 at the airport in Toluca, Mexico state, the day after the implementation of widely opposed education reforms.

The former union leader denied the charges against her, claiming that she was being held as a political prisoner because of her opposition to the legislation.

The SNTE had previously supported Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), persuading thousands of teachers to back it at the polls.

However, she was expelled from the PRI in 2006 after switching her support to the National Action Party.

Ms Gordillo went on to found the New Alliance Party ,which was part of the PRI-led coalition in last month’s elections.

In a statement read out by her lawyer, Ms Gordillo confirmed that she would not speak to the media until a press conference on August 20.

“Due to the very long situation of isolation to which I have been subjected, I need a period to privately assimilate the obvious emotions that are derived from such an important personal occurrence,” the statement said.

It is not yet clear whether the government will challenge the court’s decision.

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