July 16, 2018 / 8:26 PM / in 4 months

El Chapo's trial delayed two months as defence reviews evidence

FILE PHOTO: Recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted by soldiers at the hangar belonging to the office of the Attorney General in Mexico City, Mexico January 8, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday postponed the trial of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman by two months, to Nov. 5, after Guzman’s lawyer said he needed more time to review evidence recently received from prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan in Brooklyn said the delay was warranted by the “voluminous” evidence that prosecutors handed over on July 3. He denied a request by Guzman’s lawyer, Eduardo Balarezo, to bar prosecutors from using evidence that they had not produced by June 26.

Jury selection had been scheduled for Sept. 5. In a court filing last week, Balarezo had said prosecutors’ late production of evidence “obliterates any semblance of due process and Mr. Guzman’s ability to have a fair trial.”

Balarezo said in an email Monday that Guzman was “highly disappointed” with the decision, believing that the trial should have been delayed five months.

“He believes that the prosecution is purposely playing games in an effort to deny him a fair trial and trusts that an impartial jury will see through the smoke and mirrors at trial,” Balarezo wrote.

John Marzulli, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue in Brooklyn, declined to comment.

Guzman, 61, has been in solitary confinement since being extradited to the United States from Mexico in January 2017 to face drug trafficking and conspiracy charges.

He was known internationally as the head of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, though Balarezo said at a hearing last month that he planned to show Guzman played a lesser role.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Susan Thomas

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