Local January 19, 2012 | 5:55 am

Top official sees murk in Biwater scandal

Santo Domingo.- The Ethics Commission president on Thursday questioned the interest of the previous justices of the Supreme Court’s 1st Commercial and Civil Chamber to hear the case of alleged extortion against the British company Biwater International, and finally handing down a sentence favoring the businessman Fulgencio Marcelo Abreu Villavizar, who filed a breech of contract and lack of payment suit against the foreign company.

Marino Vinicio Castillo said a clause in the contract between the Dominican Government and Biwater stipulates that any judicial problem could only be heard in English courts. “In the case there’s a very serious issue; the English maintained that it couldn’t be tried here in Dominican Republic, and in the contract they established that if there were a conflict it had to be heard in their country.”

He said in the ruling of the Appellate Court’s 2nd Civil Chamber one of the judges cast a minority vote which stipulates that the case couldn’t be tried in the country, because the Supreme Court itself had established by sentence that when that clause exists it has to be respected.

the minority opinion was written by judge Roberto Plasencia, designated a Supreme Court Justice by the National Magistrate Council.

The case

“What does that show? That the Supreme Court itself sought to remain with the file; that’s very serious. Now is up to the investigators to determine who, within the Supreme Court or associates, could have influence and power to abandon its own jurisprudence,” Castillo said.

He said it was from the judiciary itself where the extortion occurred, for which everyone knows how difficult it can be to get 12 million dollars, since in his view Abreu Villavizar is nothing more than a common and normal citizen.

“I believe that this is a heavy case where the political power participates,” the official said, adding that “one needs to be very intelligent to imagine that such a considerable sum of 600 million pesos isn’t handed out just like that; it had to be some type of influence beyond the relations which Fulgencio Marcelo could have.”

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