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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Judge denies request to dismiss charges against suspended Ponce mayor

Suspended Ponce Mayor Luis Irizarry Pabón

By The Star Staff

Judge Daniel López González on Tuesday denied a request from lawyers representing suspended Ponce Mayor Luis Irizarry Pabón seeking to dismiss criminal and ethical charges against him, according to an announcement by the Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor (SIP Office).

Irizarry Pabón is facing charges for illicit enrichment under Article 251 of the Penal Code and for violating the Government Ethics Code. The decision means that the suspended mayor will now go to trial. The SIP Office filed charges against Irizarry Pabón for allegedly soliciting money from his employees to repay a $50,000 personal loan.

The resolution upheld that SIPs Zulma I. Fúster Troche, Ileana Agudo Calderón and Fabiola Acaró Porrata-Doria did not violate the canon of ethics. Lawyers for the mayor had accused them of failing to disclose information that could help their client.

“We have determined that the evidence requested by the defense is not evidence that benefits or is relevant or can exonerate the accused,” an extract of the document notes.

The mayor’s attorney, José Antonio Andreu Fuentes, had requested the dismissal of the case against Irizarry Pabón on the grounds that the affidavit of a witness before the Office of the Electoral Comptroller represents exculpatory evidence.

“Of course, because they hid the evidence in Rule 6 from us, because if they had given us that evidence in Rule 6, totally sculptural evidence, in all probability there would have been no probable cause,” Andreu Fuentes said at the time. “And those who were present here know that Rule 6 made this same statement, and by hiding the evidence from us, we could not have the document that proved it at hand. But if we had proven it, there would have been no probable cause. Of course, and what the people gave was political funds.”

Fúster Troche had said: “What the defense is doing is an act of total desperation. Here, in the face of the forceful testimony that you heard this morning, what the defense does is use any excuse to take a breath and gain time. That’s what we’re seeing here, a delay of justice brought about by the defense in this case.”

She referred to testimony from Ponce’s former director of Municipal Public Works, Oscar Iván Nazario Segarra, who had described during the preliminary hearing how he paid the personal loan of $50,000 at the request of Irizarry Pabón.

The witnesses were excused until April 10, when the date was set for the continuation of the case in the preliminary hearing stage.

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