The Office of the Special Independent Prosecution Committee (Opfei) characterized Saturday as “a great achievement in the anti-corruption mission”. Decision of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico Special Independent Prosecutors (FEI) have jurisdiction to criminally investigate and prosecute businessmen. Juan Maldonado de Jesus And Aaron Wick.
“Earlier decisions on the matter by the High Court and the Court of Appeal mean that people cannot be prosecuted on serious charges.”The president of Opfei said, Nidia M. Goto VivesIn written reports.
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The Supreme Court on Friday issued its majority opinion in the case of Maldonado de Jesus and Vic. A $38 million sale failed In rapid covid-19 tests for govt. Businessmen allegedly committed crimes to secure government contracts.
Court of first instance He was firedIn 2022, indictments against Maldonado de Jesús and Vick, the Court of Appeals ruled that Opfei lacked jurisdiction over the merchants. Confident, in February. The defense argued that Opfei could not be prosecuted unless a private citizen was part of a scheme along with public employees.
The Supreme Court set aside the appeal and sent the case back to the trial court.
Koto Vives pointed out Opfei Law As amended in 2012, it said “His jurisdiction over these people is clear”.
The Supreme Court, in its majority opinion, recognized that Opfei was created to investigate and prosecute “certain public officials who have engaged in certain criminal acts.” He pointed out, however, that the Act recognizes some jurisdiction to prosecute private individuals when they act in collusion with authorities.
In the case of Maldonado de Jesús and Vick, the investigation of special prosecutors regarding the procurement of evidence COVID-19 This involved both public officials and private individuals, but, at the end of the investigation, they determined that criminal charges should only be filed against private individuals.
“The committee has made ample use of the power conferred by law to decide to investigate the persons concerned with a view to criminal prosecution.”“Many public officials at that time were accused or potentially implicated in crimes,” the majority opinion said.
The concept expands jurisdiction
According to the President of Puerto Rico Bar Association, Manuel QuiliciniThe majority opinion expands Opfei’s jurisdiction. “Now, even if charges are not filed against government officials, they can be filed against private individuals involved in schemes to defraud the exchequer”Quilicini said.
The lawyer explained, in this case, Opfei accepted the jurisdiction because the secretary Department of Justice, Domingo Emmanuelle Hernandez, indicated that the agency was not liable for criminal prosecution due to conflict of interest. “The question will be why they are not prosecuted because the judiciary can prosecute individuals who have committed a crime,” he explained.
Lawyer Luis Sánchez BetancesFor its part, the Opfei Act asserted that “specials created for exceptional, specific and limited circumstances”. “Council cannot become second judiciary”under control.
graduate Ricardo Brito Garciawhile, He described the Supreme Court’s majority opinion as dangerous because it would make Opfei a “regular” prosecutor’s office instead of a “special” office.and pointed out that the Act was specific as to the persons who could be prosecuted.