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Strong setback by the Prosecutor’s Office in the Fuente-Alba case

The harsh setback experienced by the Public Ministry and the State Defense Council in the accusation of money laundering brought against the former commander in chief of the Army, Juan Manuel Fuente-Alba, and his spouse – the Fourth Oral Criminal Court of Santiago court unanimously dismissed the charges – it is certainly a very compromising situation, especially for the prosecutor in charge José Morales, especially due to the harsh objections that the court made to the presentation of the evidence, particularly to the way of handling carried out the expert reports on Fuente-Alba’s assets, which of course is strongly reprehensible not only because it is evident that with such a level of sloppiness the image and solvency of the Public Ministry is called into question, but it also produces a natural distrust of the judicial system as a whole.

The former commander in chief maintains another case in military justice for misappropriation of public funds, so his judicial situation has not yet concluded. Regardless of how this case is resolved, it is striking that in the case of money laundering, a case certainly of great public connotation – in addition to airing millionaire figures of reserved expenses that would have been diverted by Fuente-Alba, it was a fact of It is of utmost importance to determine if, during the years in which he served in command, he committed the serious crimes that were being charged – and which therefore required solid foundations – this was not the case, even more so when the Prosecutor’s Office had requested a 15-year sentence.

The reading of the verdict was lapidary in showing a series of gross errors in the expert opinion of the Fuente-Alba estate, as well as reproaching the lack of impartiality – in addition to a series of errors – of someone who was one of the main experts in this case, a PDI official, considering that having participated in the expert reports in the case heard in military justice, his approach to the case could be biased. This is how the court could not reach a conviction, but rather mere suspicions, and once the complete ruling is known it will be possible to appreciate in greater detail the aspects that were questioned.

The Public Ministry has indicated that it will request the annulment of the ruling, and although the result of said appeal can be awaited, it is a fact that since it was a unanimous verdict, the road is uphill. There are voices that already compare this case with the embarrassment that occurred with the so-called “Bombs 1 case,” where also in a highly media trial all the accused ended up being acquitted.

Certainly, it is worth asking how it was possible that throughout the investigation the Prosecutor’s Office was not able to repair the problems that the expert opinion suffered, and once the trial was lost, the question inevitably arises of how responsibilities are assumed for what happened. . In cases like these, not only is the prestige of the institution seriously damaged, but time and resources have also been wasted, to which must be added the wear and tear it represents for the parties who are accused. It seems to be time to open the debate about how to make responsibilities effective when prosecutors make gross mistakes, because it contravenes common sense that in the face of such a result no cost is assumed.

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