• The San Juan Daily Star

No SIP to be assigned in case involving ex-Aguadilla mayor

Former Aguadilla Mayor Yanitsia Irizarry Méndez

By John McPhaul

The Special Independent Prosecutor Panel (PFEI by its Spanish initials) on Wednesday accepted the recommendation of the island Department of Justice not to assign a prosecutor to investigate former Aguadilla mayor Yanitsia Irizarry Méndez.

“The conclusion of the investigation was that, in this case, the appointment of an Independent Special Prosecutor is not appropriate,” the PFEI said in a written communication. “This decision was based on not having identified in the statement of the lawyer for Irizarry Méndez, nor in her statements, any falsehood, categorical statement or lack of certainty that would place her actions into the criminal type of the crime of perjury, which is the one alleged to have been committed.”

Likewise, the PFEI document indicates that the legal claims in the case were of such a nature “that they required immediate attention from the Court since, otherwise, they could damage the democratic character of a society in which political power is exercised in accordance with the manifest will of the voters at the polls.”

In relation to the rest of the defendants, the investigation found that no elements of criminal conduct were identified that could link those officials with actions related to the crime of perjury. For their part, the members of the panel — after a thorough evaluation of the evidence collected and the extensive investigation carried out by the Justice Department’s Division of Public Integrity and Comptroller Affairs (DIPAC by its Spanish acronym) — accepted the recommendation not to appoint an independent special prosecutor and ordered the definitive filing of the matter, without further processing.

According to the statement, the case originated with two complaints referred to DIPAC against Irizarry Méndez and other officials. From the preliminary investigation conducted by that agency, it appears that the first complaint was filed by current Aguadilla Mayor Julio Roldán Concepción.

The mayor alleged that Irizarry Méndez filed an appeal for judicial review on the election of the current mayor that, among other things, contained false statements about the number of votes awarded. The second complaint was submitted by attorney Gerardo “Toñito” Cruz Maldonado, who at the time of the filing was the electoral commissioner of the Popular Democratic Party. The latter also contained allegations of perjury, the grounds of which were identical to those of Roldán Concepción.

The investigation also mentions that, once the State Elections Commission certified Roldán Concepción as the winning candidate, Irizarry Méndez, an attorney resorted to the judicial forum in different instances, including the appellate level.

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