CNMI COMMISSIONER ALLEGEDLY INTERFERES IN INVESTIGATION

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Petition to remove Mafnas widely supported

By Ferdie de la Torre

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, March 26, 2012) – Department of Public Safety Commissioner Ramon C. Mafnas allegedly interfered with the investigation into the killing of bartender Emerita "Emie" Romero, shocking and puzzling his own police detectives.

As this developed, Saipan Tribune learned that a well-supported petition has been circulating at the Department of Public Safety for the immediate removal of Mafnas.

[PIR editor’s note: Marianas Variety reports that 80% of employees at the Department have allegedly signed the petition.]

Some people have also started surfacing, claiming that they were victims of the commissioner's alleged abuse of power and bullying.

According to a document obtained by Saipan Tribune, Police Capt. Lawrence M. Camacho, chief of DPS Criminal Investigation Bureau, learned from detectives that Mafnas was jeopardizing the investigation into the killing of Romero.

Camacho notified chief prosecutor Peter Prestley in a letter dated Feb. 9, 2012, about Mafnas' questionable actions in the Romero case.

The incident happened when Camacho held a briefing on Feb. 7, 2012, with Mafnas, deputy commissioner Ambrosio Ogumoro, Police director Aniceto Ogumoro, Capt. Pete Leon Guerrero, and Sgt. Tom Blas regarding the latest information in the Romero case.

As Camacho was starting with his briefing, focusing on the interview with the key witness, Mafnas allegedly interrupted him to tell him that what the investigators told him (Camacho) was a lie and that the investigators should re-interview the witness.

Mafnas stated that he had spoken to the key witness and that she had told him information that contradict what she earlier told the investigators. Mafnas then began telling everyone in the room of his interview with the key witness.

This prompted Camacho to tell the commissioner that he needs to turn in a self-statement of his interview with the key witness. Camacho explained that the discovery rule has to be satisfied, especially if it contradicts what investigators had already provided a statement on.

Mafnas replied that he did not owe Camacho a "goddamn statement!"

The CIB chief informed Mafnas that he needed to back off and let the investigators do their job as he was jeopardizing the investigation.

Camacho explained that during the investigators' canvass of the area in Garapan where Romero was last seen alive, a couple of his investigators visited an establishment for an interview.

The individual at the establishment was reluctant to give any statement to investigators because a "gray-haired individual" (referring to Mafnas) came in already, claiming that he was the "boss of the police" and already took his statement.

The investigators were shocked and puzzled, but Camacho told them not to worry about it as he will ask Mafnas for a self-statement.

Camacho told Mafnas that he needs to submit two statements because he had already gotten himself involved in the investigation, most especially about the key witness.

Mafnas repeated himself that he did not owe Camacho a "goddamn statement!"

The Office of the Attorney General has yet to issue a statement about Camacho's letter to chief prosecutor Prestley.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, the Saipan Tribune reports that the Government is taking the complaints against Mafnas ‘very seriously.’]

Last Friday, Saipan Tribune broke the story about complaints that Mafnas allegedly threatened to arrest, handcuff, and shoot two Filipino security guards and a Korean dive instructor in separate incidents in Marpi.

In response, Mafnas said he welcomes an independent investigation by federal and CNMI authorities. Mafnas said the allegations are the products of individuals with ulterior motives to fulfill their selfish agenda.

With respect to the Romero investigation issue, Mafnas said there is absolutely no substance or evidence to support the allegation that he deliberately interfered with the Romero case investigation.

He blamed three to four "sore" senior officers at DPS of being behind these allegations. He did not name these senior officers.

Meanwhile, Saipan Tribune learned from sources that several DPS personnel have signed a petition for the ouster of Mafnas. Several Tinian and Rota DPS personnel also joined in the petition.

The petition, sources said, cited many alleged abuses of Mafnas and unprofessional conduct, among other things. The petition is expected to be submitted to Gov. Benigno Fitial and Lt. Gov. Eloy Inos this week.

Saipan Tribune also has continued receiving several emails and calls from people, mostly motorists and alien workers, who complain about Mafnas' alleged abuse of power and bullying and allegations of him tailing them without cause and confiscating their driver's licenses.

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