Oddly Enough

Mexican sits in truck 14 hours as refuses cop bribe

MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters) - A Mexican motorist staged a 14-hour sit-in protest in his truck after police tried to make him pay a huge bribe for driving through a red traffic light, rather than impose a smaller official fine.

Jesus Martinez said police tried to extort 8,000 pesos (400 pounds) from him after he ran a red light in the early hours of Wednesday in the northern city of Monterrey, Mexican media reported. The official fine for failing to stop at a red light in Monterrey is about $30 (20 pounds).

Martinez, who denied being drunk, sat in his truck and refused to budge until cops gave in and issued him with a formal ticket on Wednesday afternoon. He stayed put even when his Hummer was towed to a police vehicle pound.

Officers eventually issued him with a series of traffic fines including one for refusing a drink-driving test, but local government lawyers agreed Martinez could lodge a formal complaint.

“I asked for my ticket and the officer asked me for 8,000 pesos, told me I was drunk, I was missing documents, that I needed a medical exam,” Martinez told El Norte newspaper.

“The officer saw my Hummer and said to himself ‘I’ll get thousands of pesos out of this one’.”

While Martinez sat in his truck, relatives and friends blocked one of Monterrey’s main avenues for about 90 minutes to protest at rising police corruption in Mexico.

Badly-paid Mexican police have long supplemented their incomes with traffic bribes but Mexicans say corruption is now out of control as many police are in the pay of drug gangs.

Reporting by Robin Emmott, Editing by Sandra Maler