By The Star Staff
After an analysis of the evidence collected during a preliminary investigation conducted by the Department of Justice on possible illegal actions committed by Sen. Albert Torres Berríos, the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel (PFEI by its Spanish initials) on Monday agreed to appoint a special independent prosecutor (SIP) to conduct a formal investigation of the lawmaker.
Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández had requested that an SIP investigate the senator for possible violations of Article 191 of the Penal Code (extortion) as well as Article 3 of Act 115-1991, known as the Law for the Retaliation Against Employees for Offering Testimony, or Whistleblower Law.
The PFEI appointed prosecutor Zulma Fuster Troche to carry out the in-depth investigation over the next 90 days.
According to what Emanuelli Hernández reported to the PFEI, the Division of Public Integrity and Comptroller Affairs (DIPAC) interviewed employees in Torres Berríos’ office and examined documentary and testimonial evidence contained in a complaint filed with the Senate Ethics Committee alleging that the Popular Democratic Party senator had requested money from the husband of an employee for his personal expenses. In addition, the lawmaker had tried to stop certain witnesses from testifying before that committee.
The employee, Alba González Rivera, had been prominent in the Senate since February 2021. The official had told the Senate Human Resources Office that Torres Berríos had required her husband to deliver money under penalty for refusing it that would result in the loss of González Rivera’s employment.
The Justice Department’s preliminary investigation gave weight to the evidence collected and recommended the designation of an SIP, as provided by Law 2-1988. The PFEI found the criteria established by law to act in accordance, for which it issued the authorization of a special prosecutor to investigate the senator’s actions.