US$2.4M embezzlement case spooks Dominican Republic mayors
Santo Domingo.- The ongoing case of the mayor of a major city charged with embezzling more than RD$100 million (US$2.3 million) has prompted his colleagues in other towns of the Dominican Republic to seek a shield from prosecution.
The mayors grouped in the FEDODIM filed a challenge before the Constitutional Court (TC) against the suspension of San Francisco de Macoris mayor Felix M. Rodriguez, who together with two other senior city officials faces charges of corruption.
FEDODIM president Pedro Richardson said the challenge on constitutional grounds seeks to remove the article of the Penal Code that establishes a mayor’s suspension when a criminal trial starts or if the felony carries incarceration.
He said the current article violates the Constitution’s presumption of innocence when it stipulates that a local official must be suspended as soon as the trial starts. "We seek to eliminate that section of article 44 which is evidently contrary to the Constitution, but from our Federation, we advocate good local practices, transparency and accountability."
Government Ethics Commission director Marino Vinicio Castillo (Vincho) said the country’s mayors don’t manage taxpayers money with transparency, in reference to the case of San Francisco de Macoris.
He said his unit receives complaints from many citizens across the country on mishandling of funds by city officials. "But we are unable to access them because of an issue of municipal jurisdiction."