Americas

Dominican former law minister arrested on suspicion of diverting funds

3 minute read

Dominican Republic's Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez speaks during a news conference on the attack on baseball legend David Ortiz, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic June 19, 2019. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas/File Photo

SANTO DOMINGO, June 29 (Reuters) - Dominican authorities arrested a former attorney general on Tuesday over accusations of diverting public funds to a political group that backed the Dominican Liberation Party, (DLP) during his term that ran until August.

Jean Alain Rodriguez becomes the Caribbean nation's first former attorney general to be prosecuted. His arrest is the fourth in "Operation Medusa", an investigation into officials of the attorney general's office in recent years.

Television broadcast images of Rodriguez, surrounded by numerous security personnel, being handcuffed and taken to a cell to wait for the charges to be presented and a judge to formalise the arrest.

"If this isn't persecution, then tell me what it is," Rodriguez said in a recent post on Twitter.

He was denouncing a campaign he said was "based on hate and revenge" after being prevented from boarding a flight to the United States on June 24.

"We'll see each other at the attorney general's office today, Tuesday."

He later posted two pictures of himself in a suit, arriving voluntarily at the office.

Several officials of the 2012 to 2020 administration of former president Danilo Medina, of the DLP, have already been detained in other investigations.

Since the end of last year, one of Medina's brothers has also been held on accusations of diverting public funds while one of his sisters is under house arrest.

Medina has not publicly commented on the operations and Reuters was unable to immediately reach him for comment.

Members of PLD, which ruled the country from 2004 to 2020, demanded the formation of a special commission to investigate alleged irregularities in the raids on Rodriguez and others.

"What is being done with this cornering of the PLD is political persecution," said Gustavo Sanchez, a party spokesman in the lower house of Congress.

Authorities raided several of Rodriguez's properties on Monday night, in addition to 38 simultaneous raids on those of other former officials, on suspicion of offences such as defrauding the state, forgery, electronic crimes and money laundering.

At least eight of the officials, all from Medina's administration, were also detained, authorities said.

Reporting by Ezequiel Abiu Lopez in Santo Domingo; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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