The Mexican government has recognized Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, who was ousted from his post and forced into exile in Canada in 2008 amid fraud allegations, as the leader of the Mining and Metalworkers' Union, or SNTMM, officials said.

The union was notified that Gomez Urrutia is being recognized as secretary-general and Mario Garcia as acting secretary-general, the Labor and Social Security Secretariat said.

The Supreme Court ruled in early May that federal officials had no legal grounds for refusing to recognize Gomez Urrutia as leader of the powerful miners union after he fled to Canada to avoid criminal charges that have since been largely discredited.

Gomez Urrutia fled to Canada in February 2006 after prosecutors issued a warrant for his arrest on charges he embezzled $55 million in union funds.

He claimed the charges were politically motivated and Canadian officials refused Mexico's request for his extradition, deciding a year ago to grant the union leader permanent residency.

From his Canadian exile, Gomez Urrutia has largely managed to maintain control of the SNTMM, which represents nearly 300,000 miners and metalworkers.

The decision to recognize Gomez Urrutia is "based on the commitment to act in strict adherence to the law and with full respect for the rulings of the judicial branch," the Labor and Social Security Secretariat said.

Gomez Urrutia's situation has created divisions within the SNTMM, with some workers joining independent unions carved out of the labor organization. EFE