the Office of the Panel of the Independent Prosecutor (OFI) classified Saturday as a “major achievement in the mission of combating corruption.” Decision of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico It is a guideline that states that private independent prosecutors (FEI) have jurisdiction to criminally investigate and prosecute business people Juan Maldonado de Jesus And Aaron Vick.
“Previous decisions by the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal in this matter mean that persons with serious charges cannot be tried.”Opfei Chairman said, Nidia M. Koto Vivesin written statements.
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On Friday, the Supreme Court issued the majority opinion regarding the case against Maldonado de Jesus and Vick The failed $38 million sale In the government’s rapid COVID-19 tests. The businessmen allegedly committed crimes to obtain the government contract.
Court of First Instance It was rejectedIn 2022, the charges were brought against Maldonado de Jesús and Vik, deciding that Opfei had no jurisdiction over the business, a ruling made by the Court of Appeal. Certain, in February. The defense argued that Opfei could not criminally prosecute a private citizen if he was not part of a scheme with public sector employees.
The Supreme Court overturned the appeal decision and returned the case to the court of first instance.
Cotto Vives pointed out that Ovi’s law It underwent modifications in 2012, which I mentioned “His guardianship over these people is clear.”.
The highest judiciary recognized, in the majority opinion, that Opfei was created to investigate and prosecute “certain public officials who engaged in certain criminal activities.” However, he noted that the law recognizes some jurisdiction to prosecute private persons when they act with officials.
In the Maldonado de Jesús and Vick case, special prosecutors conducted an evidence purchasing investigation Covid-19 It included both government officials and private individuals, but at the end of the investigation, they decided that criminal charges should only be brought against private individuals.
“The Commission appropriately exercised the authority conferred by law to decide to investigate the persons of interest with a view to criminal prosecution.”“Because at that time numerous public officials had been accused or charged with possible crimes,” the majority opinion reads.
The opinion expands the scope of jurisdiction
According to the president puerto Rico Bar Association, Manuel Cileccinithe majority opinion expands the scope of Opfei’s jurisdiction. “Now, although charges have not been brought against public officials, they can be brought against private persons involved in a scheme to defraud the treasury.”Quilicini said.
The lawyer explained that in this case, Al-Awfi assumed jurisdiction because the court secretary Department of Justice, Domingo Emanuele HernandezHe noted that the agency would not be responsible for criminal prosecution due to a conflict of interest. “The question is why they were not prosecuted, because the Department of Justice can prosecute individuals who have committed a crime,” he explained.
lawyer Luis Sanchez BetancesFor her part, she stressed that the Ovie Law is “exceptional and innovative for specific and limited circumstances.” “The committee cannot become a second Ministry of Justice.”Detained.
graduate Ricardo Brito Garciawhile, He described the opinion of the majority of members of the Supreme Court as dangerous because it would turn Al-Ofi’s office into a “regular” prosecution instead of a “special” prosecution.He pointed out that the law is specific regarding who can be prosecuted.
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