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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Rivera Schatz asks for probe into claims Senate confirmation vote was rigged

Sen. Thomas Rivera Schatz/Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Ana Escobar Pabón

By The Star Staff

New Progressive Party Sen. Thomas Rivera Schatz asked the island Justice Department on Thursday to subpoena Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Senate candidate Carlos Díaz Sánchez about evidence he has of possible illegal acts in the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR).

Rivera Schatz said in a letter to Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández that Díaz Sánchez hinted that the release of convicted murderer Hermes Ávila Vázquez, who is facing charges in the killing of a woman in Manatí while he was out of prison on conditional release, is linked to the vote of senators who confirmed Ana Escobar Pabón as DCR secretary. Díaz Sánchez made his remarks on the television program “Primera Pregunta.”

“Mr. Carlos Díaz alleged that a Department of Corrections contractor, whose last name is Ávila, similar to the last name of the murderer in question, helped obtain the votes for the Senate confirmation of Secretary Ana Escobar,” Rivera Schatz’s letter stated. “Mr. Díaz hinted, to questions from journalist and moderator Rafael Lenín López, that those votes for the confirmation and release of Mr. Hermes Ávila were in some way related to some type of exchange between that potential contractor, a relative of the murderer, and some senators.”

Díaz Sánchez has been stating in the media that he has information about Ávila’s release that has irritated the victim’s family and outraged the entire people of Puerto Rico, the veteran senator said.

“Due to the seriousness of the matter, I request that you immediately summon Mr. Carlos Díaz to testify under oath so that he can offer the information and evidence that he has that will clarify this unfortunate event …,” Rivera Schatz added in the letter.

If Rivera Schatz’s allegations are true, Rivera Schatz said, he would have implicated PDP senators, including Senate President José Luis Dalmau Santiago, who is in charge of the Appointments Committee. Escobar Pabón confirmed on Thursday that she will appear at a public hearing Friday at 10 a.m. in the Senate on the Ávila Vázquez incident after failing to show up for a hearing on Wednesday.

“It would be disastrous if potential people involved in the release scheme are summoning the secretary of the Department of Corrections to public hearings or interrogation sessions, which they confirmed in the circumstances alleged by Mr. Díaz,” the Senate minority leader said.

The NPP Senate delegation also voted for Escobar Pabón, who is an NPP activist.

In 2005, Ávila Vázquez was sentenced to 122 years in prison after pleading guilty to the murder of Celia López García, a 28-year-old therapist and mother of two children, which occurred in Caguas. However, he was released from prison after submitting a request in April 2023 under Law 25-1992, which allows for the release of inmates who have AIDS or other terminal illnesses. Upon his release, he allegedly killed a woman with whom he had had a relationship, Ivette Joan Meléndez Vega, 56, in Manatí.

Ávila Vázquez, 52, faces four charges of first-degree murder in the form of intimate femicide, possession and use of a knife, destruction of evidence, and illegal appropriation of a vehicle, according to the Justice Department.

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1 Comment

William Rosa
William Rosa
May 10

It's funny to see grown-up men behaving like children and not doing a good acting job. Perhaps Mr. Rivera Schatz should grab his rollo deck and check the innumerables situation he found himself performing the same role, for the same purposes and probably in conjunction with one of those guys from the other side of the circus stage. Unfortunately for the PDP/NPP, those tricks are well known by every Puerto Rican who's merely surviving in the environment created by the former; you used too often the same tools without growing.

Mr. Rivera Schatz, enjoy the last stage of your political kingdom because it looks that new winds might it not comfortable. You know well that PR needs a transfusion of…

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