Former Dominican justice minister arrested on suspicion of embezzlement

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Dominican Republic 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

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SANTO DOMINGO, June 29 (Reuters) – Dominican authorities on Tuesday arrested a former attorney general accused of embezzling public funds to a political group that backed the Dominican Liberation Party (DLP) during his term that ended in August.

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

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

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“If that’s not persecution, then tell me what is,” Rodriguez said in a recent Twitter post.

He was denouncing a campaign which he said was “based on hatred and revenge” after he was prevented from boarding a flight to the United States on June 24.

“We’ll see you at the attorney general’s office today, Tuesday.”

He then posted two photos of himself in costume, voluntarily arriving at the office.

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

Since late last year, one of Medina’s brothers has also been detained for embezzlement of public funds while one of his sisters is under house arrest.

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

Members of the PLD, who 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 grabbing of the PLD is political persecution,” said Gustavo Sanchez, party spokesman in the lower house of Congress.

Authorities raided several of Rodriguez’s properties Monday night, in addition to 38 simultaneous searches of those of other former officials, suspected of offenses including state fraud, counterfeiting, electronic crimes and money laundering.

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

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

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