Arrested PR official accuses gov't of power abuse

AP News
Posted: Feb 27, 2012 7:29 PM
Arrested PR official accuses gov't of power abuse

A major opposition figure and candidate for mayor of Puerto Rico's capital charged Monday that a domestic violence investigation at his home was excessive and politically motivated.

Hector Ferrer, minority leader in the U.S. territory's House of Representatives, was arrested Thursday for alleged domestic violence at his home in a San Juan suburb. Police said there was evidence he damaged the house and made crude statements to his wife in the presence of his 5-year-old son.

In his first public comments since his arrest, Ferrer asserted that Puerto Rico's Department of the Family abused its power during the investigation. He alleged the agency's secretary threatened his wife.

Ferrer told reporters that he planned to write Gov. Luis Fortuno a letter detailing his allegations, adding that he was "not going to allow a single abuse against my family."

Attorney Osvaldo Carlo, who represents Ferrer, has said that his client is separating from his wife and got into an argument with her but that there was no physical violence.

Ferrer's estranged wife, Eliza Hernandez, has since lifted a restraining order imposed against him. Local newspapers said she has alleged that she was pressured into pressing charges against Ferrer.

On Monday, the island's justice department submitted its preliminary report in the case to the Caribbean island's special independent prosecutor. It said there is evidence to sustain charges of domestic abuse.

The territory's justice department refers cases against public officials to a panel of judges at the special prosecutor's office to avoid possible partisan bias on the politically divided island.

Ferrer is the vice president and spokesman of the Popular Democratic Party, one of the two parties that dominates Puerto Rico's government. A member of the House since 2000, he is running for San Juan mayor against the longtime incumbent, Jorge Santini, who is a powerful member of the governing party.