Dominican Republic Detains Ex-Ministers; Opposition Protests

Опубликовано: 22 Март 2023

Domenican Republic ProsecutorAttorney General’s Office building in Santo Domingo. (Photo: Ronny Medina, Wikimedia, License)

Dominican anti-corruption prosecutors requested on Monday a year and half of preventive detention for three former ministers and other suspects who were apprehended over the weekend for allegedly stealing over US$340 million from taxpayers. The opposition claims the arrests were politically motivated, rather than part of an anti-corruption campaign.

The move prompted riots in front of the Palace of Justice in the Dominican Republic's capital, Santo Domingo. Opposition supporters threw stones at the building, injuring four congressmen. The police used tear gas to disperse the protestors.

“We cannot fail to express our deep indignation at the opportunistic and arbitrary manner in which our colleagues were arrested,” the secretary general of the Dominican Liberation Party, Charlie Mariotti said according to Deutsche Welle.

He accused the prosecutors of being an “instrument in the re-election” of the Dominican president, Luis Abinader.

The Prosecution Office, headed by Mirna Ortiz, requested the preventive detention because it believes that the suspects could flee or obstruct investigations if released on bail. The detention would last until their trial.

Dozens of prosecutors, investigators and police officers raided 40 different locations and detained 19 people over the weekend, accusing them and charging them with multiple crimes, including criminal association, embezzlement, bribery, money laundering, falsification of public and private documents, illicit campaign financing.

The suspects allegedly committed illegal acts between January and July of 2020, defrauding the Dominican government by making multiple requests for payment for administrative debt related to contracts for buying and selling real estate, expropriation of land, and credit assignments.

According to the statement, investigations are ongoing, and more arrests may follow.

Since taking office in 2020, President Abinader has promised to fight against corruption, and his government has conducted multiple investigations and arrests, including the brothers of former President Danilo Medina in November 2020 for alleged corruption.