AG Office suffers from credibility gap

A copy of the  following letter was sent to various media in Palau.

————————————

August 26, 2011

Ernestine Rengiil

Attorney General

Office of the Attorney General

P.0. Box 1365

Koror, Republic of Palau 96940

Dear Attorney General:

The Office of the Attorney General took over certain prosecutions filed by the Special Prosecutor in the absence of a functioning Office of the Special Prosecutor. It was your Office’s job to see that these cases proceeded with the highest degree of impartiality and fairness. I am writing this letter because I believe your Office has entirely disregarded its function to seek justice by its dismissal of the case of ROP v. Diaz, Criminal Case No. 09-067. This dismissal has compromised the appearance that your Office iscapable of prosecuting cases against high public officials with any degree of integrity.

Your Office sought dismissal of the criminal case against Senator Diaz for his admitted violations of the code of ethics because your Office claimed some of the “charges were precluded by the Speech and Debate Clause of the ROP Constitution.” See Motion to Dismiss without Prejudice filed August 15, 2011. If even a modicum of research had been done, your Office would have learned that your dismissalwas not at all sanctioned by the Palau Constitution and to the contrary, the relevant Palau Constitutional Convention Standing Committee Report explicitly states that the Speech and Debate clause does not mean “that the senators are immune from charges of bribery or corruption or breaches of a code of ethics.” See Palau Constitutional Convention Standing Committee Report No. 222, p. 16.

Your Office dismissed the remaining counts claiming “lack of sufficient evidence” despite stipulated admissions by the Defendant. Further, evidence your Office claimed was lacking might have been obtainable through your subpoena power, had you exercised it. A subpoena was never served on either Roll ‘em Productions, Inc. or on the United Nations.

Not only does your dismissal of this case threaten the legitimacy of your Office’s ability to carry out its prosecutorial function, it makes a mockery of the Code of Ethics. Notwthstanding, the same week you dismissed a senator’s admitted violations of the Code of Ethics you issued an opinion about the propriety of senators receiving public funds while in office. See AG-11-202 dated August 18, 2011. What political game is your Office playing? Incidentally, under your own analysis, Senator Diaz is in violation of the Code of Ethics, yet again, for accepting any funds from the National Government and/or StateGovernments for advertisements and/or programs produced by or aired on MBTV. See AG Opinion, AG- 11-202, pp. 2-12.

As the multiple, admitted criminal counts were dismissed against Senator Diaz without prejudice, I urge your office to reconsider the dismissal in the interests of justice.

cc: Hon. Johnson Toribiong, President; All Members, House of Delegates; Eight Olbiil Era Kelulau; AllMembers, Senate, Eight Olbiil Era Kelulau; Palau Bar Association; Ethics Commission.

Sincerely,

Kassi Berg

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