Judge admonishes El Chapo’s lawyer for opening statement

NEW YORK (AP) — A U.S. judge has admonished the lawyer for Mexican drug smuggler El Chapo after an opening statement that riled Mexican presidents by accusing them of taking bribes.

Prosecutors at the New York trial had asked the judge to throw out the defense’s opening statement at the trial of Joaquin Guzman (wah-KEEN’ gooz-MAHN’).

The judge stopped short of that Wednesday, but admonished attorney Jeffrey Lichtman to stick to the evidence.

Lichtman had called the government’s motion “entirely without merit.”

Lichtman said Tuesday that his client was not the real leader of a cartel that sent tons of cocaine into the U.S. Lichtman blamed another reputed trafficker who he said evaded capture with bribes.

Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon and a spokesman for current President Enrique Pena Nieto vehemently denied the claims.