“Everything that journalists talk about the distribution of hospitals and charges are inferences from them”
Last week, journalists from the La Posta portal made an interpretation of conversations via chat between the Minister of Government, María Paula Romo, with former Assemblyman Daniel Mendoza, accused of organized crime. According to this interpretation, the chats evidence the close relationship between Mendoza and the Minister, and the supposed distribution of hospitals. The criminal lawyer Lorena Grillo explains that these chats, by themselves, do not mean anything, and that it is illogical that the assembly members who are part of the alleged cast, vote in favor of an investigation on the subject, that would be “shooting themselves in the foot.”
To begin, explain the route of a chain of custody and when its content loses value in court.
When any device, a CD, a telephone, a computer, a flash memory, enters the chain of custody, they do not stay in the Public Prosecutor’s Office but go to the Judicial Police warehouses and are assigned a number. So that device remains in chain of custody until it is opened at the hearing, if it was opened before the hearing, it would have no validity.
Regarding the Mendoza case, it can be presumed that screenshots of those chats were taken, which were delivered to several people, and then that the phone, with the content of those chats, was handed over to the Prosecutor’s Office. There may be several sources with these chats, but I think the most important thing is to see their content.
What can be understood from the content of these chats?
If you read those chats without listening to the interpretation made by the La Posta journalists, they really don’t say anything. They greet each other, they respond, he (Mendoza) recommends someone, sends him a resume, complains that a person close to him has been fired or removed from a position, insists that this is going to look bad, she answers him that what looks bad is bad management … In all this I believe that there is no infraction.
Journalists argue that recommending the governor of Manabí, for example, can be configured as managing public positions.
It would first have to be determined that Mendoza was the only person who recommended the current governor of Manabí for that position. On the other hand, we would have to see what benefits ex-assemblyman Mendoza would have received from that governor, however, it must be understood that the positions of the governorships are of absolute confidence of the President, that is, it is not required to hold a merit contest and opposition to get to that position. Furthermore, positions of trust in a government come from its own ranks, not from the other parties.
Now, the journalists, to explain the supposed distribution, mix these chats with an organization chart supposedly made by Mendoza, to ensure that the Minister is the one behind everything. Do you find this theory credible?
From the chats, absolutely nothing can be inferred about hospitals. In the chats you don’t read the word hospitals, doctors, medicines, absolutely nothing. In the journalists’ logic, Mr. Mendoza is being investigated in a process by the Pedernales hospital and automatically whoever spoke with him is part of the crime. Therefore, all the people who chatted with Mendoza are criminals.
All that journalists talk about the distribution of hospitals and charges are their inferences, because in the chats nothing is evidenced. I insist, if the chats are read without listening to the journalists who are presenting them, nothing of what they imply appears in the chats, absolutely nothing.
Doesn’t it seem suspicious that only certain chats are chosen between the Minister and Daniel Mendoza and that no chats appear with other politicians?
The people who supposedly received the hospitals and are included in the organization chart, which according to the journalists Mendoza did, are the ones who voted on Thursday, in the Assembly, in favor of the investigation. You have to have a bit of common sense: if they give me a hospital within a political division, I will not be so clumsy in voting in favor of an investigation against who gave me the hospital.
Therefore, if all the people who are named in that table go against Minister Romo and ask for the investigation and impeachment, it is evident that there is no distribution of anything, because these people, logically, should protect her, because in doing so they protect themselves. The opposite would be to shoot yourself in the foot.
It is a strange accusation that the alleged distribution of hospitals is blamed on the Minister of Government and not on the appointing authorities, that is, the Ministry of Health.
This is a very important issue: you have to look at the dates on which the directors of those hospitals were appointed and the dates of those chats, to see if the dates match. I understand that many of those directors were in office even before this government.
Where are the Ministers of Health in all this?
The Health Ministers who were in office on those dates must answer if they named those people and why they did so.
In the event that Minister Romo has influenced the appointment of hospital directors, shouldn’t it first be determined whether these directors committed crimes during her administration?
There must have been a benefit for her, because I can recommend a person, but I cannot be held responsible for the crimes that this person may incur. Criminal responsibility is very personal, it is not transferred to the person who recommends it or to anyone.
How to understand that the immediate reaction of the Assembly is to ask the President of the Republic to remove the Minister from office?
Historically the Assembly has had very little popularity and it has very low ratings. In that situation, it hits him that several assembly members appear in Mendoza’s box, in addition, that he has several assembly members with legal problems. So with the vote on Thursday I think they are trying to wash their face.
If the accusation were true, there would not be a request for an investigation with the vote of those involved, it does not make sense. However, it seems important to me that this research be carried out, that things become transparent. (I)