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This topic was split out from a higher level topic on the matter of the prosecution of sexual crimes. See http://www.chiriqui.life/topic/2734-human-trafficking-sexual-trafficking-sex-crimes-and-the-prosecution-thereof/

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Sex crimes acquittal spurs call to end special trials


Posted 20/04/2021

The acquittal Arquesio Arias of the four charges of sexual crimes committed against two women in the Guna Yala region has once again brought to the debate the need to change the rules of special trials conducted under the Accusatory Penal System (SPA), a procedure under which no deputy has been convicted reports La Estrella.

The process followed by the deputy of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) bench revealed a violation of the principle of equality before the law. By establishing special trials, which grant privileges to deputies, magistrates, and presidents, criminal proceedings become political and the decision will depend on political manipulation, violating the principle of judicial independence," said Carlos Lee, lawyer and member of the Commission of State for Justice.

Lee considers that it is urgent to put an end to the privileges and modify the Code of Criminal Procedure, which in its article 495 establishes that the decisions taken by the plenary session of the Supreme Court of Justice within the causes followed to a deputy will be adopted by vote of the absolute majority of its members. But the sentence that resolves the merits of the investigation will be adopted by two-thirds of the members of the full Court, that is, 6 votes of the 9 magistrates.

In 3 of the 4 crimes that the deputy of had been charged with, the plenary session of the Supreme Court did not find sufficient evidence of the prosecutor Olmedo Arrocha's theory.

The nine judges unanimously decided (9-0) to absolve him of the causes of carnal rape against an adult and a minor. The deputy was also found not guilty of the crimes of libidinous acts against an adult.

 The decision that has generated the most controversy is the one taken by the highest court of justice for the alleged crime of libidinous acts against a minor, in which the deputy was found not guilty after not reaching the 6 votes required for a conviction.

The magistrates María Eugenia López, Carlos Vásquez and the alternates Otilda Vergara de Valderrama and Miguel Espino, appointed by President Laurentino Cortizo, are four of the magistrates who recognized that the deputy deserved a sentence. They were joined by the vote of magistrate Luis Ramón Fábrega.While magistrates José Ayú Prado, Hernán De León, Ángela Russo and Cecilio Cedalise voted against the sentence. This was announced by two sources of are linked to the administration of justice. In that sense, Juan Carlos Araúz, president of the National Bar Association (CNA), explained that a person's state of innocence is not affected by the number of votes missing to convict him.

Araúz is another of those who advocate for changes in the criminal procedural justice system. He concludes that the trial establishes defects in the procedural system, which have not wanted to be addressed.

"This moment of social upheaval should guide concrete actions and provide solutions to a system that is plagued with obstacles, deficiencies and defects with special trials," added Araúz. Among the imperfections pointed out by the union member is the impossibility of challenging the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice because it is a single-instance process. To this, he adds the gap between the accusation and the accusation, the so-called suitable evidence - at the time of filing a complaint against a deputy - and the vote that is different from the rest of the common processes that the Court follows."

I have to reason that (the magistrates) have acted in accordance with what the rules establish ... The reproach is against the rules of the system," he added.

 In Araúz's opinion, there is a mechanism that does not guarantee real access to justice and anyone who enters a defective system has the possibility of being harmed. The ruling portrays the deficiencies in the procedural system, said Ernesto Cedeño, who emphasizes the need to create an independent body to investigate the deputies and magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice. And, in addition, an impartial entity, which can bring a cause to a successful conclusion, where there is a conflict of interest."

This type of case should call for reflection that it is necessary to modify our procedural system to establish one of equality and in one way or another end, when appropriate, in a specific constitutional reform so that a procedural system is established that can bring to justice any number of those investigated with the certainty of punishment ”, warned Cedeño. Roberto Moreno Obando, lawyer and former prosecutor, is of the opinion that the qualified majority, that is, the two-thirds of the votes of the magistrates that are required in a process against a deputy, makes it difficult to reach a verdict of guilt."



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Doctor ruled guilty of sex crimes by 5 of 9 judges will return to Assembly


Posted 02/05/2021

The Doctor and deputy Arquesio Arias found guilty of libidinous acts to the detriment of a minor by a majority of the judges who tried him will take his seat in the National Assembly when it returns. 

Luis Ramón Fábrega, María Eugenia López Arias, Carlos Vásquez, Otilda Valderrama and Miguel Espino were the five magistrates who considered him guilty

The four magistrates who voted to declare Arias not guilty were Ángela Russo, Cecilio Cedalise, José Ayú Prado and Hernán De León.

Although 5 out of 9 magistrates found Arias guilty, this was not enough to convict the deputy, given that a qualified majority is needed to sentence him: that is, 6 out of 9 votes.

Without that qualified majority, Arias could have been sentenced to a sentence of one to three years in prison or its equivalent in fine days or weekend arrest, according to article 177 of the Penal Code. If the victim is under 14 years of age, the penalty would be four to six years in prison.

Arias was also prosecuted for three other crimes and, in each of them, he was declared not guilty, unanimously, by the full Court, constituted as a trial court for the occasion.

The reading of the sentence took place on Friday, April 30.

Arias was present at the event, but not the two victims. The deputy did not offer statements, but he nodded when journalists asked him if he would return to his seat as of July 1, when the ordinary sessions in the Assembly resume.

While he was being investigated, he had a precautionary measure of house arrest, which was already rendered ineffective since April 16, after eight days of oral proceedings that concluded with the court's deliberation and the declaration of not guilty.

On April 30, for the first time, the nine magistrates who made up the trial court intervened to give explanations.

Fábrega, López Arias, Reyes, Espino, and Valderrama detailed in their vote saves why they decreed Arias as the perpetrator of the crime of libidinous acts to the detriment of a minor, assessing that the victim's testimony was consistent despite errors in the dates given.

Furthermore, despite the fact that experts determined that the minor did not maintain physical and psychological affectation, this does not imply that the assault did not occur, since some victims may have gaps or mental blockage, which makes their evaluation difficult.

Meanwhile, Russo, Cedalise, Ayú Prado, and De León questioned, in their explanatory vote, the work of the private complaint and the prosecutor Olmedo Arrocha. The four magistrates considered that the amount of evidence during the oral trial was not enough to prove the crime.

In his opening of arguments before the trial court, the tax magistrate asked that what, both national and international courts, have said regarding the testimony of the victims be taken into account. Also, take into account that the psychological impact suffered is not invariable, it does not obey a single pattern. In other words, the effects of this impact are unpredictable with respect to when they may emerge.



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