Justice chief wants ‘cooperation,’ ‘not competition,’ with federal authorities
By The Star Staff
Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández said Tuesday that his agency does not compete with federal authorities in the prosecution and filing of corruption charges against public officials.
“I do not have a competition with the federal officials to see who files more cases or who files fewer cases,” Emanuelli Hernández said at a press conference. “What I want is cooperation. In the same way that I cooperate with them, I want them to cooperate with me.”
The agency has been the target of criticisms because it was the U.S. Attorney’s Office and not local officials who conducted investigations against several island mayors engaged in kickback schemes with contractors. The investigation led to the arrests of the then-mayors of Cataño and Guaynabo, as well as a contractor.
Emanuelli Hernández said he has assigned six prosecutors to investigate cases.
“What we want is for corruption to end, be it at the state or federal level,” he said.
Asked whether the local Justice Department would have investigated the corruption cases against former Cataño mayor Félix “el Cano” Delgado Montalvo and former Guaynabo mayor Ángel Pérez Otero if the federal government had not acted, the Justice secretary replied: “Justice is not the investigative arm of the government of Puerto Rico.”
“The investigative arms are the Police [Bureau] and the NIE [Special Investigations Bureau],” he said.
Emanuelli Hernández stated that by law the Justice Department only has 90 days to investigate cases involving public officials, unlike federal agencies.
Meanwhile, regarding the case of Andrea Ruiz Costas, the woman who was killed by an abusive ex-boyfriend and is at the center of a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in which the petitioners seek access to the court records in her case, the Justice chief said the people have the right to examine the recordings.
“Both the press and the Puerto Rican people have the right to review those recordings,” Emanuelli Hernández said.
The official’s remarks came after a meeting at La Fortaleza with Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia.