Friday, December 13, 2013

Puerto Rico: Justice Secretary Resigns Amid Police Station Visit to Support Former Law Partner

According to The Latin American Tribune, Puerto Rico Justice Secretary Luís Sánchez Betances resigned on Wednesday (December 11) amid a scandal sparked when he visited a police station where a friend of his was being held in jail for driving while intoxicated.

Sánchez Betances issued a statement minutes before meeting with Gov. Alejandro García Padilla and after publicly acknowledging that he made a mistake by going to a police station after his friend and former law partner Jaime Sifre telephoned him on Monday (December 9).

Sánchez Betances said he was “completely convinced” that he had not done anything illegal or committed a breach of ethics – or done anything at odds with the duties of his office – and added that he felt proud of the work he had performed at the Justice Department.

The former Justice Secretary resigned just hours after cutting short an official visit to Costa Rica at the request of García Padilla.

COMMENT: When his flight landed in Puerto Rico, he acknowledged publicly that he had made a mistake by showing up at the San Juan police Traffic Division headquarters where Sifre was being held.
Sánchez Betances repeatedly insisted that, in his judgment, he had done nothing illegal or unethical but had only responded to the call of a friend, and he demanded that everything continue to take the normal course of the law.

It is interesting to point out that the former Justice Minister was obliged to adhere to the same US laws on the Mainland as in Puerto Rico.

Yet, if Sánchez Betances did nothing illegal or breached no ethical regulation as he so vehemently emphasized, why is that Governor Alejandro García Padilla so readily accepted the former justice secretary's resignation from his posting?

Perhaps the answer can be found in the US Department of Justice's investigation of the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) on allegations of widespread corruption and human rights violations.