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Politicians and Government Employees versus the Rule of Law (and Ethics) and Legal Loopholes


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MEDIA WATCH: Flouting the rule of law

Posted on July 19, 2016 in Panama

Post Views: 57

Hoyporhoy La Prensa July 19

THE ELECTORAL jurisdiction has proven to be an effective tool to perpetrate crimes. Martinelli was first, then some of his party members followed him and now we see ex-vicepresidente Virzi using the same tool to obstruct and prolong legal proceedings against him.

So this jurisdiction has been prostituted, becoming a refuge for these politicians, through parliamentary immunity as has been used by the deputies.

If political parties do not want to garner even more dislike and nausea from society such sickening impunity they must modify the use of electoral courts as a legal instrument to evade justice.

While political parties argue that the charter was not created for that purpose, leaving arms crossed and  continuing to allow its abhorrent use is to become complicit in the abuse.

If they want to do things well and project a better image, they must take the initiative as soon as possible and put  an end to this unfortunate issue. Otherwise, we will see once again how politicians mock the rule of law.


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Trial stalling move “mockery of justice”

Posted on July 19, 2016 in Panama

Virzi and his lawyer, last minute
Post Views: 88

A MOVE BY  a former vice president  to stall his court appearance in a corruption trial by running for office in a political group has been labeled a mockery by Panama civil society organizations.

Felipe ‘Pipo’ Virzi was scheduled  face a Monday July 18,  hearing for  embezzlement, over a failed irrigation project in Tonosí. It is the second time that the hearing had to be  postponed.

At the last minute Virzi was nominated  as a candidate for the fifth undersecretary of the National Executive Committee (CEN) of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) which  led to the suspension on Monday, July 18 , for the second time of the preliminary hearing  of 33 people for embezzlement against the State, through the failed Tonosí irrigation project in Los Santos.

The Judge, Jose Angel Carrera said Guillermina McDonald, legal representative of Virzi, appeared to his office on Friday July 15 at 4:58 pm -a two minutes before the  5 pm  closing time (5:00 pm) – to notify him  that her client was running as  a candidate in the internal elections of the PRD and so enjoyed electoral protection.

Carrera opened the hearing at 9:31 am on Monday and said that because of   the application of one of the accused for an elected office he could not give the audience as it was necessary to ask the Electoral Tribunal (TE) to lift the  immunity of Virzi.

The judge said that the notification of the defense Virzi completely surprised him because everything was planned for the Monday hearing.

“Every time a hearing is suspended state money is thrown overboard, as the authorities must make a great effort of personnel and logistics ao these processes are developed properly,” said the judge.

At the same time   he called on the lawyers to adhere to the principles of procedural fairness to all parties.

The judge rescheduled the hearing to between  November 14-18.

The Third Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, Zuleika Moore, had requested the call to trial of Virzi and his partner, Ricky Ricardo Calvo trader; the former ministers of Agricultural Development Emilio Kieswetter and Oscar Osorio; former candidate for deputy of the Democratic Change (CD), Porfirio Ellis, and managers of the contractor Hidalgo & Hidalgo (H & H), Marco Albán Crespo and Victor Rios, among others. Almost every defendant is under  precautionary measure. Osorio and H & H executives are the only ones in preventive detention.

Ana Belfon, lawyer for Osorio, asked the judge Carrera to apply a less severe preventive measure for her  client, as he had been  detained for s yesr , and does not represent a flight risk and has complied with the process.

Ricardo Ricky Calvo, is a fugitive in this process and there is red Interpol alert for his arrest

In addition, Elvira, the daughter of Virzi, ran for the PRD fourth undersecretary. Both Virzi and his daughter are accused of irregularities in the registration of property in Santiago, Veraguas province.

In a statement made public on Monday PRD official, Perez Herrera said that the PRD cannot prohibit any person participating in an internal election, provided it complies with the requirements of the statute of the collective.

Meanwhile, Annette Planells of Movin described the decision to suspend the hearing as absurd because the request for judgment against Virzi by the prosecution was made in January 2016, prior to his application as a PRD candidate.

Planells claimed that this action undermines the reason why the electoral jurisdiction was created, and which aims to avoid political persecution of the candidate.

Magaly Castillo, Citizens Alliance for Justice, said that the electoral criminal jurisdiction is the form used by politicians investigated for corruption to mock justice.

She wondered, how a case like Tonosi irrigation under investigation since August 2014, could protect  a politician with electoral jurisdiction because he  decided to participate in an internal struggle of his party. “This is too much impudence and I hope that the judges of the Electoral Tribunal act quickly, to lifting the immunity and take decisions against this practice that is affecting the administration of justice,” she said.


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Ex-Immigration boss grilled on illegal CD call center

Posted on July 18, 2016 in Panama

Maria Cristina Gonzalez
Post Views: 193

THE INTERROGATION of the former director of the National Immigration Service for her role in an illegal government funded CD call center during the last election, began on Monday July 18.

Maria Cristina Gonzalez was driven from her home in upscale  Brisas del Golf to the office of  the second Anticorruption Prosecutor in the  Avesa building on Via Espana. to be inquired into in the case of call center.

Gonzalez is accused of allegedly committing crimes against public administration, specifically influence peddling, embezzlement and fraud.

On July 13 the Second Superior Court denied an application by Gonzalez not to be arrested for this case.

The case broke in the midst of the 2014  election campaign when Giancarlo Teran said that while he was working in the call center it was funded by the National Assembly . It was  supposedly run by the former head of Migration and the ex-vice minister  Internal Trade, and current spin doctor for former president Ricardo Martinelli and the CD party,  Luis Eduardo Camacho.   Former tourism manager and CD dirty tricks Svengali Salomon Shamah was also linked to the illegal center operating from a building on Avenida Balboa.


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Call center embezzlement suspect gets jail taste

Posted on July 19, 2016 in Panama

María Cristina González.
Post Views: 90

FORMER Immigration Director Maria Cristina Gonzalez  spent Monday  night July 18 behind bars after her first day of interrogation by anti-corruption prosecutors.

After her Tuesday session of questioning she was ordered not to leave the country and to report to officials every Monday and Friday.

Gonzalez  was interviewed about her alleged role in the operation of a call center run by the Ricardo Martinelli’s  Cambio Democratico (CD) party  during the last election. Prosecutors allege that the call center was funded with state money.

Gonzalez spent Monday  night in the facilities of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation in Ancón,.

She is facing charges of offenses against public administration (embezzlement)


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OPINION: Impunity  poisoning rule of law

Ricardo Martinelli fled to Miami
Post Views: 102
IMPUNITY  is one of the intoxicants that poisons the rule of law. One of the factors that most favor it is the existence of permissive legislation, that rewards those under investigation who escape from the country to expect that the turning of calendar leaves will aid their cause. The National Assembly National has in its hands the draft bill 155 amending the Criminal  Procedure Code and that, among other things, would allow imputation in absentia those under investigation who have fled the arm of justice.

This move  – that to us may seem novel – is common in other countries and guarantees a balance between due process and the protection of the common good. The best action of Interpol or the processing of effective extradition processes will never replace a mechanism that prevents the unhealthy mockery that is made daily against Panamanian justice.

It is time to balance criminal proceedings and punish corruption … La Prensa. Jan. 28.



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Law reform could snag no-show  criminal suspects

Ana Mathilde Gpmez
Post Views: 139
A  PROPOSAL to reform the criminal code so that suspects under investigation can be accused in absentia would close an escape route for the likes of ex-president Ricardo Martinelli and other high profile figures who have fled the country or fail to show up in court although represented by lawyers.

The legislative proposal that would avoid the provisional dismissal of the case was submitted to the National Assembly by the independent deputy and former Attorney General, Ana Matilde Gómez.

She warned that, currently, the cases of people who could not be imputed by being out of the country could go unpunished.The preliminary bill seeks to eliminate the requirement that a person investigated must be present at the imputation hearing and intends, according to Gomez, to put an end to impunity.

According to the current rules, if the suspect, once cited legally, does not attend the hearing, the judge may decree the dismissal of the case until the person being investigated shows up thus promoting impunity, says Gómez.

The proposed amendment to the Criminal Procedure eliminates the requirement that the subject under investigation must be present at the imputation.

The proposal could be applied in several cases that are stuck in the Supreme Court related to Martinelli, in the United States waiting to be extradited to Panama.

What is proposed was already applied under the inquisitive system. However, with the implementation of the accusatory system in 2016, it was eliminated.

The preliminary draft law raises as an alternative the expansion of the option to submit to the direct procedure, not only those accused with a penalty of up to four years but those with longer sentences.

Ex-Prosecutor  Rogelio Cruz said there is no problem with the reforms proposed by Gómez and they  should not face major obstacles for approval reports La Prensa.

Ex-Magistrate Edgardo Molina Mola said that the modifications are favorable, since they apply to cases like Martinelli’s.

“How is it possible that a man like him [Martinelli] is absent and cannot be judged and even more, when you have about 10 lawyers. It is totally absurd that he has to show up personally when the lawyer is the one who represents him,” he said.

The lawyer made the caveat that one must be cautious in applying this type of procedures as in dictatorial regimes they are used to commit “abuses and arbitrariness”.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Politicians and Government Employees versus the Rule of Law (and Ethics) and Legal Loopholes

Former Attorney General Ana Matilde Gómez is an independent and one of the straightest and most respected members of the Assembly.

This is an excellent  and necessary proposal, imo. The judicial system needs to be able to try and convict absentee offenders who try to run away and hide.

Edited by Keith Woolford
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