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‘Sweetheart Deals’: El Chapo’s Lawyer Says Case Built on Testimonies of ‘Liars’

© AP Photo / Rebecca BlackwellMexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted by army soldiers to a waiting helicopter, at a federal hangar in Mexico City, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016.
Mexican drug lord Joaquin El Chapo Guzman is escorted by army soldiers to a waiting helicopter, at a federal hangar in Mexico City, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. - Sputnik International
The defense attorney called the testimony by 14 criminal cooperators against the famous drug lord a “staged event” orchestrated by prosecutors.

Jeffrey Lichtman, the lawyer for Joaquin Guzman, better known by his nickname "El Chapo" (for "Shorty"), told a US court that the entire case against his client is based on testimonies by convicted criminals who have been given "sweetheart deals" to frame Guzman in exchange for shortened sentences, Time reported Thursday.

According to Lichtman, the 14 cooperating witnesses who testified against El Chapo cannot be trusted, as they are "lying opportunists."

"They're just lying to your faces," Lichtman said before the court Thursday. "They may be liars. They may be killers. They may be degenerates, but they're not stupid."

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The lawyer insisted that it was cooperation from criminals that "gave this case life, gave it breath."

"The witnesses not only admitted to lying every day of their lives," but they also lied under oath, Lichtman said, according to the Time report.

The lawyer stated that the prosecution "cleaned up" the convicts and "put [them] on display" in the courtroom to play their part in what he called a "scripted event."

"This trial is about one thing and one thing only — getting Chapo," Lichtman said. "Everyone wants the famous Chapo."

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Lichtman's remarks clash with those of Assistant US Attorney Andrea Goldbarg, who on Wednesday insisted that the cooperating witnesses are telling the truth. The witnesses testified on how exactly Guzman ran his drug-trafficking schemes. According to Goldbarg, only 12 of the witnesses have struck deals, Time reports.

"Ladies and gentlemen, these witnesses are criminals," Goldbarg said. "The government is not asking you to like them."

Guzman, 61, is accused of trafficking some $14 billion worth of drugs into the US, according to Reuters. However, he is most famous for two daring escapes he pulled off in Mexican prisons. In 2001, he escaped from the Puente Grande prison by hiding in a laundry cart, Time recalls. In 2015, he escaped again, through a tunnel his cooperators dug beneath the Altiplano prison. In 2016, he was arrested again in Mexico and extradited to the US for prosecution.

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