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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Justice Dept. moves to drop neglect case against young mother

Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández

By John McPhaul

Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández requested on Monday the shelving of the case initiated against Elianni Bello Gelabert for a violation of Article 60 of the Law for the Safety, Welfare and Protection of Minors after leaving her baby alone in the front of the father’s residence in Santurce.

“We have established communication with the Family Department to guarantee the best well being of the baby and that, in turn, the mother can receive services from the different agencies,” the Justice secretary said in a written statement. “After evaluating all the information obtained after the filing of the case and the particular circumstances of Bello Gelabert, we believed that the fairest decision is to stop the criminal process and that the case can be dealt with at the interagency level. Our mission is to do justice and for this, the social aspect and everything that affects a person cannot be ignored.”

On Monday, prosecutor Frances Ortiz Fernández, coordinator of the Specialized Unit for Domestic Violence, Child Abuse and Sexual Crimes of the San Juan Prosecutor’s Office, filed a motion requesting the shelving and dismissal of the case in accordance with Rule 247 (a) of Criminal Procedure.

“When the case was referred by the Police to the San Juan Prosecutor’s Office, the Prosecutor’s Office reacted to protect a three-month-old minor, whose situation was already under investigation due to previous complaints in the Family Department,” Ortiz Fernández said. “The foregoing does not prevent us from re-evaluating the approach we adopted in discharging our ministerial duty.”

“According to the foregoing and taking into consideration the most prudent and just balance in the case at hand, we request that this Honorable Court proceed with the filing and dismissal of the case before its consideration,” reads the motion filed Monday.

“Since last week we have been evaluating the procedure in this case with a non-punitive approach,” added the chief prosecutor, Jessika Correa González. “As we have stated, a prison sentence is not pursued in all the filed cases, but rather that the illegal conduct is not repeated. We trust that the agencies can diligently attend to it and ensure the well being of the girl and her mother.”

Earlier Monday, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi requested that the Justice Department shelve the case.

“What we have to do here is give support to that lady and we have to make sure that the father of the baby is held accountable,” the governor said at a press conference. “[And] that all the agencies that can contribute, contribute.”

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