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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Corrections secretary expresses concern over leaking of documents

After Senate candidate shares letter allegedly penned by accused inmate saying he will reveal names of people who knew he could walk

Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Ana Escobar Pabón

By The Star Staff

Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Ana Escobar Pabón, expressed concern on Wednesday about the leak of a document in which convicted murderer Hermes Ávila Vázquez requested to testify about an alleged condition of paraplegia.

“The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) received from the superintendent of the Income, Diagnosis and Classification Center 705 in Bayamón, Wanda Montañez Santiago, the letter that today Popular Democratic Party [Senate] candidate Carlos Díaz disseminated through the media,” Escobar Pabón said in a written statement. “This document was immediately referred to the Department of Justice, which is leading the investigation into the case of the release of Hermes Ávila.”

“On repeated occasions, I have responded responsibly and with the required information to subpoenas and petitions from the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Department of Justice and the media,” she added. “Now, I am particularly concerned about the constant leaking of documents, the complaints without corroborating their veracity and vicious attacks against the agency with the sole purpose of tarnishing reputations, casting shadows on the investigation and trying to affect its outcome.”

“For our part, we will continue to move forward with the investigation and the results will be referred to the Department of Justice and any other agency with [a stake] in this matter,” the official said.

Ávila Vázquez requested to testify before the Department of Justice or the Special Investigations Bureau (NIE) about his paralysis, according to an alleged letter in the inmate’s handwriting revealed by Díaz Sánchez earlier Wednesday.

In the letter, Ávila Vázquez wrote that he would reveal the names of people who knew he could walk.

Ávila Vázquez was let out of prison under an early release program that some inmates can become eligible for if they suffer from certain terminal conditions. However, after Ávila Vázquez was released, he allegedly killed a woman in Manatí. He had been diagnosed as paraplegic even though he could walk. Since then, the DCR has been the target of criticism for allowing his release.

The May 1 letter is addressed to the Superintendent, Captain and Commander of the 705 prison. In it, Ávila Vázquez requests a meeting to provide the names of the doctors and other officials who knew that he was faking his paraplegia. He said he would only speak to the Justice Department or the NIE, and not the DCR.

“Hermes Ávila now wants to denounce those who knew and were complicit in his feigned paraplegia, among whom he mentions doctors, nursing supervisors, guards, sergeants, civilians and senior officials of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, alleging that there is an agreement between all the parties mentioned by him in his letter,” Díaz Sánchez said.

“It is important for the secretary of Corrections to know that the inmate, like the people of Puerto Rico, does not trust the administrative investigation that is being carried out, as can be seen from the note,” the candidate added.

“It is important for this letter to be part of the legislative investigation carried out by the Senate of Puerto Rico and that they include the testimony of the convict Hermes Ávila Vázquez,” said Díaz Sánchez, who shared a photo of the letter electronically.

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