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In the DR, only the poor get to stay in jail

The coordinator of the Citizen Participation (Participacion Ciudadana), a civic watchdog group, Patricia Sosa, lashed out at Dominican judiciary for the release on bail of the two last individuals accused in the Odebrecht scandal: former Minister of Public Works and secretary of Finances of the ruling PLD political party Victor Diaz Rua and Odebrecht commercial representative Angel Rondón. The other 13 accused by the state prosecutors had previously been released from initial pre-trial custody orders.

The state prosecutors have until 7 February 2018 to present the formal accusations. So far, the Attorney General’s Office has based its case on the file of the statements made by Odebrecht officers that were received from Brazil prosecutors.

In a press release, Citizen Participation pointed out: “The Odebrecht scandal is a case based on corruption in which the company admitted to have paid bribes to representatives, public officials and their affiliates, in excess of US$92 million dollars to benefit from the allocation of state works. To date, our country is the laughing stock of the world because of the apparent absence of a serious intent to prosecute those involved,” she highlighted.

Sosa said that in the Dominican Republic, the fight against corruption consists of just empty words and meaningless speeches made in an attempt to deceive the citizenry. She asked if the reasons for the pre-trial custody originally imposed by Special Instruction Judge Francisco Ortega Polanco had changed. Sosa says at the time, she had argued there was sufficient proof of probable cause that those detained were involved directly or indirectly in wrongdoing and their release by the judiciary could prevent, stall or impede an investigation.

Sosa complained that only the powerful, those with ties to the power of the state and those with lots of money, are shielded from responsibility of their unlawful actions. “Our jails are overpopulated by poor people. None of these poor souls benefit from alternative interpretations of the penal code that allow those accused of serious crimes against society to walk away from jail”, she lamented.

Sadly, she said, the principle that the justice system is tested in cases where people with political and economic wealth are tried where all should be equal for justice is an illusion in the Dominican Republic.

The director of the civil society organization added: “We are in favor of a swift and effective justice system – not a penal code that facilitates impunity from prosecution of those who have garnered public resources an illicit manner simply due to their position in the government. It is necessary to punish those found guilty of committing illegal acts that pose a serious threat to the exercise of a healthy, democratic society. There must be penalties in place that clearly act as deterrents to those who would commit crimes that undermine the legitimacy of our public institutions and erode the rights afforded to each member of our society. Make no mistake, corruption within the body of our government runs contrary to our country’s moral order and sense of justice for all.”

Former Minister of Public Works, Victor Díaz Rúa was allowed to post bail for RD$50 million, ordered to be available for periodic presentations at court and banned from leaving the country. His guarantors were journalists Namphi Rodríguez and Tamara Sánchez; Franklin Almeyda Rancier, Manuel de Jesús Pichardo, Domingo Abréu Jiménez and Franklin Alberto Rodríguez Garabito.

Angel Rondón, commercial representative of Odebrecht benefited from a RD$70 million bail. His guarantors were José González Pérez, of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano, and Manuel de Jesús Paniagua, a vehicle dealer.

Rondón has acknowledged receiving a similar amount to US$92 million but has insisted the sum was for services rendered in favor of the company.

Others accused in the preliminary phase of the case are: former Minister of Industry & Commerce Temístocles Montás, former PRM deputy Rudy González; the president of the PRM, Andrés Bautista; former directors of the Public Electricity Corporation Cesar Sanchez and Radhamés Segura; former director of the National Drinking Water Institute (INAPA), Roberto Rodríguez; former director of the Dominican Hydroelectric Generation Company (EGEHID), Máximo Leónidas de Oleo Ramirez; Bernardo Castellanos; PRM deputy Alfredo Pacheco, and PLD senators Julio César Valentín Jiminián and Tommy Alberto Galán Grullón; lawyer Conrado Pittaluga Arzeno.

In an op-ed contribution to Diario Libre published on 11 September 2017, former National District prosecutor and Al País presidential candidate, Guillermo Moreno speculates that the release of Víctor Díaz Rúa and Angel Rondon is because these know too much. “If either of these says what they no, I can assure you that the presidency of Danilo Medina will last less than a cockroach in a chicken pen.”

In the op-ed article, Moreno mentions the illicit financing, payment of electoral strategist Joao Santana, transfer to the Dominican Republic of the Odebrecht structural operations office (the bribes office), the direct involvement of Medina in the overvaluation of Punta Catalina thermoelectric power plant, purchase of legislators to introduce the re-election in the Constitution, among others for which Medina could be tried. Moreno observes, nevertheless, that differently from the situation of Presidents in other countries, Medina has a comparative advantage in controlling prosecution, Judicial Branch and Legislative Branch in the Dominican Republic.

Source: DR1, Eldia

Sep 12, 2017

Category: DR News |

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Last updated November 17, 2017 at 12:17 PM
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