Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman returns to court in drug case

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06 May, 2017

A federal judge in Brooklyn has set an April 2018 trial date for Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

All four of those witnesses, whose names have not been disclosed, are now serving prison sentences in the U.S., Coogan said.

Guzman's lawyers had asked Judge Brian Cogan to order him released from an ultrahigh-security wing of a NY jail that's housed terrorism and mob suspects.

The 27-year-old mother of his twin daughters sat in the gallery, dressed head to toe in white.

As Guzman, 59, entered a packed courtroom Friday, he nodded toward his wife, a former beauty queen who smiled and waved to him from her seat among spectators. Cogan said the restrictions were typical of solitary confinement and rejected a request for an Amnesty International visit.

Cogan also flatly denied a request by Guzman - who twice escaped from prisons in Mexico - to have his "special administrative measures" lifted in full or for him to be moved out of solitary confinement.

The defendant escaped from prison in Mexico twice.

He spoke directly to the judge for a portion of the hearing during which Cogan ensured Guzman was willing to keep his lawyers from the Federal Defenders of NY despite government claims they could be compromised because four potential trial witnesses against him had been represented in the past by the same office. His wife is also expected to attend.

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His lawyer Michelle Gelernt welcomed permission for her client to swap letters with his wife as "small comfort" but said it was "devastating news for both of them" to be denied visits and calls.

"We will continue to fight for his right to fair and humane treatment".

A lawyer for Guzman had no immediate comment.

Cogan's ruling revealed that Guzman is visited by his lawyers nearly every day at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, for an average of four to five hours in a windowed visitor room.

However, he did order prison officials to stop "keeping tabs" on what happens during El Chapo's meetings with his attorneys and reporting those details back to federal prosecutors.

Guzman's defence have argued that the conditions at the jail have hindered his health, causing him breathing problems and auditory hallucinations.

Guzman was brought to the January to face charges that he oversaw a multibillion-dollar global drug trafficking operation responsible for murders and kidnappings.

If he stands trial and is convicted, he is likely to spend the rest of his life in a maximum security United States prison.

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