Special Prosecutor April Dawn Cripps said that her office will maintain its jurisdiction over the prosecution of 60 Chinese nationals charged with Working Without a Permit and Promotion of Gambling,
In an Aug. 6 response to Attorney General’s Ernestine Rengil’s letter accusing her office of “overreaching,” SP Cripps said her office acted within the law, adding that the AG is free to challenge her office in court, but they will continue to prosecute the case.
“The OSP will maintain the jurisdiction over the Chinese nationals and matters that stems from the Harvest Hotel raid earlier this year. We appreciate the OAG’s offer of assistance, however we have it handled,” SP said in the letter.
AG Rengiil in her earlier letter said the OSP has conducted the investigation without communicating with her office and other law enforcement agencies, which she deemed “unacceptable and unprofessional.”
Rengiil stressed that the OSP has limited powers to prosecute, especially if it does not involve government officials, and if the cases pose a conflict of interest with the AG office.
AG Rengiil said the OSP’s action showed that two agencies are competing with each other rather than collaborating.
AG Rengiil also said her office and the Ministry of Justice will assist the OSP with the prosecution of the Chinese nationals, but asked that her office should next time “prosecute only those crimes over which your office has jurisdiction.”
OSP, however, hit back at AG and stressed that her office has the powers to “receive complaints, investigate and prosecute any or all violations of the Constitution and the laws of Palau.”
She said that, because of these powers spelled out in the law, no “overreaching” has been made.
SP Cripps said her office is also under no obligation to disclose the investigation they have been conducting, since it’s tantamount to “betraying the trust of the people.”
She also said they have done their job to ensure no political consideration or personal affiliation will jeopardize their investigation.
Cripps said the OSP has always wanted to collaborate with the AG’s Office, but that Rengiil from day one has “made it clear that you view this legally mandated position as an affront to your authority.” (B. Carreon)