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Cleaning Up Corruption and Political Power Struggles -- Civil Protests; Supreme Court Rulings; Judicial Effectiveness; National Assembly Effectiveness; Presidential Effectiveness; Impunity / Immunity Issues, etc.

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Varela calls for justice system to act for Panama


PANAMA president Juan Carlos Varela has posted an addendum to the statements of Attorney General  Kenia Porcell about threats and pressures received by corruption prosecutors.

On Wednesday, August 30  he posted on his Twitter account, “To recover the more than one billion deflected from the Panamanian people, the judicial system must act in the best interests of the Nation.”

Porcell denounced on Tuesday threats and pressures being received by prosecutors conducting investigations into cases of corruption and money laundering. She warned that some five of the major investigations into corruption, linked to the crime of money laundering, could be unfinished.



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Another case was just ditched today by the judiciary.

The "New Business" case which revolved around the circuitous money trail used to purchase the EPASA media group was ordered closed, and the investigation stopped, based on a technicality.


This follows the throwing out of the Finnmecanica file, a case which centred on the purchase of radar equipment and helicopters in Italy. The closing of the file absolves former strongman and likely presidential candidate Raul Mulino.


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OFF THE CUFF: Varela puts elbow to Court president

President Varela

PANAMA President, Juan Carlos Varela, said on Thursday, August 31 that he had spoken with the presiding judge of the Supreme Court, José Ayú Prado, about irregularities that occur within the Judicial Branch.

The president stated that he spoke with Ayú Prado 15 days ago. “The President of the Court knows of situations which are happening inside the court that are not well, “said the president.

Varela told La Prensa he spoke with Ayú Prado about the coordination that must exist between the organs of the Panamanian State.

Varela said added that the conversation was so that the President of the Court could take appropriate action, which could even lead to dismissals.



Mi Diario’s take on re-elected Supreme Court president Ayu Prado, and the new judges who voted for him

Consulted on the two appointments of judges that he should do before the  end of the year, he hinted that he would not call for a consultation with organized civil society.

He explained that he would use his constitutional powers to elect the new judges of the Court

The last two judges were appointed after citizen input which Varela largely ignored. On the day they took office they voted to install controversial Ayu Prado as Court President. Since then as the Court has dragged its heels in cases involving high profile corruption Ayu Prado has maintained his reputation as a jet-set judge on constant overseas jaunts.



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President, heightens speculation on meeting with top judge

President Varela

SHROUDING his remarks in mystery and pumping up speculation and rumors Panama  President, Juan Carlos Varela, said on Friday, September 1 that he recently spoke with the  Chief Justice of the Supreme Court José Ayú Prado, because he knew f “a very delicate case”, without specifying more details.

Varela spoke  during a graduation  ceremony of the Institutional Protection Service and said  that the irregular situation that he told to Ayú Prado is related to” faults that are not correct”.

He said that they are not related to what happened this week in the Supreme Court, but  situations that dated from several weeks ago.

“If I am asked something of a minister, I have to investigate, call the minister and ask  him what’s going on here,” “Varela explained.

The president indicated that he shared the information with the presiding magistrate of the Supreme Court and hopes that he will take the necessary measures.

On  August 31, Varela told media that he spoke with Ayú Prado to notify him of some irregularities that appear within the Judicial Body.

Varela said he spoke to Ayú Prado 15 days ago. “The President of the Court knows situations that are happening inside the Court that are not good,” he said.



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Supreme Court ruling dubbed ‘legal incest’

Judge Angela Russo

THE SUPREME Court ruling that stopped the investigation of an alleged $125 million corruption case in its tracks has  sent shock waves through civil society  and legal circles and has been described as “legal incest”  by prominent constitutional lawyer Carlos Bolivar Pedreschi.

The ruling nullifies the core of the judicial process for alleged irregularities in the purchase of 19 radars from  Selex, a subsidiary of the scandal ridden Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica.

It also lets former controversial security minister José Raúl Mulino,   off the hook.  After the ruling the Ricardo Martinelli ally, who one resigned “irrevocably” before returning to his post.  he claimed the uling hadd cleared his name.

The ruling is a kind of foreign body that it is difficult for the Panamanian social organism to assimilate Pedreschi told La Prensa  and he  does not rule out that that the people will take to the streets.

Judge Angela Russo was the rapporteur in the case, seen as one of the most iconic investigations related to corruption in the past government.

Her ruling,  that Public  Ministry (MP) lacked  the competence to order a series of arrest warrants of Mulino  who managed the purchase of the 19 radars,  was endorsed by magistrates Hernán De León, Harry Diaz, Luis Ramón Fábrega, Oydén Ortega, Abel Zamorano, Gisela Agurto (alternate chosen by lot) and Asunción Alonso (substitute for Jose Ayú Prado).



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Concerns over future rulings of judge

Ex-president Martinelli, and sons in cases with Judge Russo

CONCERN and skepticism reign in civil society and legal circles about the future of other high profile cases in the hands of Supreme Court Judge  Ángela Russo as calls go out for her resignation.

According to one search carried out by La Prensa, the magistrate – who was appointed by  President Juan Carlos Varela in December 2015  must resolve at least five processes.

One of them is the protection of constitutional guarantees presented by counsel Luis Eduardo Camacho González on behalf of Luis Enrique and Ricardo Martinelli Linares, sons of former President Ricardo Martinelli, to overrule  an order of the Anti-corruption Special Prosecutor’s Office in the Odebrecht case, to check the brothers’ bank accounts.

Russo admitted the amparo April 27 and the decision suspended all the investigations carried out by the prosecution in relation to the accounts of both.

Camacho González attacked the resolution issued by the MP in February 2017, in which prosecutor Tania Sterling asked local banks to provide  information about accounts and transactions of the children of the former president.

On the same day that she admitted the amparo, Russo sent a note to Sterling, ordering the suspension of  any proceedings related to the accounts of the Martinelli  sons.

That time Attorney General , Kenia Porcell, clarified that the order of Russo only suspended proceedings relating to the bank accounts of the brothers,  but the rest of the research was on its way.

Russo also has in her  office a preventive habeas corpus filed by the Defense of Gabriel Btesh (a member of the Ricardo  Martinelli “zero circle”. The action seeks that Btesh not be stopped, as part of the process for the alleged commission of money laundering through contracts signed with the State for infrastructure works  [the Arriajan-Chorrera highway widening]  but whose funds, would have been used for the purchase of Editora Panamá América S.A., (New Business case).

The judge must also decide whether to admit a complaint against former president Martinelli, accused of the alleged commission of crimes against public administration. This is the search for alleged irregularities in the failed Tonosí Irrigation process. In an inquiry before the MP, the merchant Felipe Pipo Virzi said that the contract awarded to the company Hidalgo & Hidalgo (H & H) was granted by instruction of the then president. Virzi acknowledged receiving $ 10 million for alleged consulting with H & H, money he distributed  to zero circle members following Martinelli’s orders.

Russo,  must also resolve a habeas corpus interposed by Ariel Alvarado, former president of the Panamanian Football Federation, investigated for alleged money laundering in the FIFA  football corruption case.



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Varela awaiting court attitude changes

Panama's Supreme Court. Changes coming?

PANAMA president, Juan Carlos Varela, is expecting  “reactions and changes in attitude “by the authorities of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ)  after announcing  “very delicate situations” in this organ of the State.

Varela revealed last Thursday at a public event that he spoke with the President of the Court, José Ayú Prado, to inform him of alleged irregularities in the judicial body. “I’ve been talking about judicial issues for two days in a row, so I will wait to see reactions and see changes in attitude,” Varela said Friday, September 1  when questioned by journalists during aa Institutional Protection Service graduation ceremony.

Varela made the caveat that the alleged irregularities are not related to what happened this week but are situations that have been developing for several weeks.

“Justice ceases to be justice when it affects the innocent … and the innocent here are the Panamanian people who have nothing to do with the diversion of billions,”he said.



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VP regrets judge endorsement as anger swells

Isabel aint Malo regrets

WHILE former Security Minister    José Raúl Mulino is lauding a Supreme Court decision that he claims “clears his name”  there is a groundswell of demand for the resignations of the judge who made the ruling and those who supported her.


Russo,De Leon and Diaz

The targets of the anger of organized civil society and independent observers are Angela Russo,   and seven judges, who upheld the ruling which halted the judicial process for alleged irregularities in the $125 million purchase of 19 radars from the scandal ridden Italian conglomerate, Finmeccanica during the last government. The judgment was largely based on the length of time spent on  the complex investigation,

Ex comptroller Alvin Weeden, told La Prensa the magistrates must resign because they have “Acted outside the law and contrary to the oath they made in the National Assembly to defend the Constitution.

“What they did was to violate the Constitution and protect corruption … They ended up with evidence of a record to protect offenders, and that is not the role of the Court, “he warned.

Annette Planells, of the Independent Movement, (Movin) said that if the judges  are unwilling to fulfill their mission to resolve disputes objectively, expeditiously and independently “, always looking for the search for justice,” they must renounce.”


Fabrega, Ortega, Zamorano

Vice president and Chancellor, Isabel Saint  Malo de Alvarado, wrote on Twitter that she regretted her recommendation of Russo to President Juan Carlos Varela when he was choosing magistrates.

Olga de Obaldía, director of the Panama chapter Transparency International, chapter of Panama said:

“The ruling is a bad precedent  of impunity for everything that comes behind and creates a precedent of impunity,”

Juan Diego Vásquez, a member of the Youth Network for Transparency, opined that Russo “should reflect on her  permanence in the Court and the message she sends to society with each judgment (…) Is she not very knowledgeable about the subject or does her criterion respond to interests? “he asked himself.

Freddy Pitt, of  Together We Decide,  said: “It is shameful and outrageous” that administrators of justice use dilatory measures to resolve high profile cases. “There is too much evidence [and] condemnation in Italy for this corruption plot, and it is unjustifiable that in Panama what is ruling is impunity. ” He said that, “from day one, many members of civil society opposed Russo’s  appointment, precisely because of her lack of independence and character to deal with such delicate cases. Time has proved us right,” reports La Prensa

Ex- comptroller  Carlos Vallarino said that the ruling is totally absurd, and it opens the door to impunity for cases that are still before the courts.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Civil Disapproval of Recent Supreme Court Rulings; President Varela Steps Into the Judicial Effectiveness Issue By Having Direct Communications with the Chief Justice
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Commerce Chamber asks judicial reform


PANAMA’S Chamber Chamber of Commerce, (Cciap)  has joined the growing chorus of civil groups calling for urgent changes  to the country’s judicial system.

In a statement issued on Sunday, September 4  it urges authorities and society to work on the “rearrangement” of the system. through a constitutional reform “to advance as a nation respectful of the law, with a Judicial Body that is a true counterweight  that would and administer justice in an impartial and efficient manner.”

The position of the business association follows  the report  last week by  Attorney General Kenia Porcell, last week that cases that investigations of corruption and money laundering run the risk of being unfinished  through impunity and that there are pressures and threats against prosecutors handling cases.

President, Juan Carlos Varela, has called on the Judicial Branch to act in the interests of the nation, in order to recover more than a $1.5 billion diverted from the  Panamanian people during the last government.

In this context, the Cciap said the process of designating new judges of the Supreme Court of Justice becomes more important, ”

“We appeal that those who are selected for these positions, are the most suitable people, with high moral standards and are selected after a broad debate to check such merits.

“It is necessary that in Panama we achieve a true state where the law prevails and is applied equally  to all, without difference, “the organization said .

Varela has already said  he will not be relying on civil input in the selection of judges, but will use his constitutional right to chose two new judges in December. One of his last choices made the  controversial ruling over the $125 million purchase of radars from Italian conglomerate  Finmeccanica, that  absolve former Security Minister Raul Mulino and created a national furor.



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Court flip-flop gave bribery case impunity

Garuz and Mulino

A GROUP of Panama opinion leaders have  denounced a ruling handed down by the Supreme Court  which  let  suspects off the hook because time had run out for the investigation.

On April 6  the Court declared null part of the investigation of   former Minister of Security , José Raúl Mulino and Alejandro Garuz, for alleged peculation in the purchase of radars in 2010.

In a public statement, the intellectuals said that the ruling is diametrically opposed to a ruling issued on March 3, 2016, in which the Court concluded that exceeding exceeded the period for investigating does not invalidate the case.

“If the Courts of Justice continue with the practice of denying  prosecutors requests  to extend the period of investigation in cases  …  the final result of such a practice will be none other than that of impunity”.

said   a “public statement” by the  group of including constitutionalists, businessmen, doctors and diplomats, among others, who agreed with the words of José Ugaz, President of Transparency International, in expressing his “support and solidarity with the Attorney General [KeniaPorcell] and all the courageous anticorruption prosecutors that work in the Public Ministry “.

The signatories of the “public statement question the” diametrically opposed view “of the  nine judges of the Court in a signed judgment of March 3, 2016 on sanctions when prosecutors are overdue in the times

“It is obvious, then, that after that decision  prosecutors acting under the umbrella of the  Court, they could not understand that their investigation would be void ” the statement said.

They indicate that in the  April 6,  decision that annulled part of the process of Jose Raul Mulino for presumed peculation in the purchase of 19 radars from Selex, “the same Court, with the signatures of the same magistrates, except for the  magistrate Jerónimo Mejía [who eluded his legal obligation to fail] adopted a criterion diametrically opposed, saying that all the actions that the prosecution has carried out after the deadline to investigate were absolutely nil. ”

“We sincerely do not believe that the Court ignores the grave consequences of its

strange decision. The consequences were foreseeable: the acquittal of all people involved in bribes, overcharges, and other crimes diligently investigated by the Public Ministry. We share the conviction that Panamanian society will not be able to digest the  serious consequences, “said the statement signed by: Carlos Bolivar Pedreschi, Mario Galindo, Juan Planells, Fernando Berguido, Guillermo Sánchez Borbón, Luis Moreno, I. Roberto Eisenmann, Alfredo Castillero Calvo, Ricardo Alberto Arias, Ramón Ricardo Arias, José Chen Barría, Juan Antonio Tejada, Rodrigo Eisenmann, Carlos Lucas Lopez, Fernando Aparicio, Jaime Arias, Olimpo Sáez, Lisímaco López, Daniel Pichel, Aurelio Barría, Tomás Herrera, Octavio Del Moral and Julio Linares.



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OPINION:  Impunity reigns with judicial abuse

Posted on September 17, 2017 in Panama

Supreme Court judges complicit in delays
 Post Views: 74

EACH PERSON  must be responsible for their actions or, at least, work within a compass of justice. However, in the last few years, a score of high-profile cases have been investigated without being called to trial. Only a few have reached sentence. According to some, the defenders are abusing the system with dilatory practices, which are accentuated when several are jointly prosecuted resulting in successive postpositions of audiences. Others blame the judges, who do not appoint public defenders to replace absent lawyers, although the law allows them to so in certain cases. The Baron de Montesquieu once said that “there is no more cruel tyranny than that perpetuated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice, “and his words remain valid. We cannot allow the argument that justice is being done with a failed ruling in which, under the cloak of the law, impunity is the rule.


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Justice system in crisis says civil society

Posted on October 11, 2017 in Panama

Post Views: 126

PANAMA’S Public Ministry (MP), with widespread backing from civil society,  will once again ask the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) to investigate whether ex-president Ricardo Martinelli committed any crime in the contract of the failed project of the irrigation system of Tonosí.

This was reported to La Prensa by MP sources, who reacted to the judgment of the Court in which it was decided not to go after Martinelli in the case for lack of suitable proof.

The judgment, which with Judge Ángela Russo as rapporteur, alleges that the Third Anticorruption, Public Prosecutor’s Office, at the time led by Zuleyka Moore, did not include the interrogation t of  former  vice-president Felipe Pipo Virzi, in which he revealed that Martinelli instructed him how to distribute  payments related to the project contract to Martinelli’s inner circle.

Russo’s ruling provoked an outcry among members of different sectors of civil society who warned, once again, about the crisis in the administration of justice.

Impunity perpetuated
The recent ruling seeks to perpetuate impunity in proceedings involving injury to the state’s heritage, they say.

“It is unfortunate that we have a country where the Judicial Branch is not up to scratch when it is wanted to prosecute those who were predators of public funds,” said ex comptroller-Alvin Weeden

Maribel Jaén, of the Justice and Peace Commission, said  that once again “it  confirms the perception of citizens that there is impunity and that the Judicial Branch is  going through a serious and deep crisis.”

The activist reiterated that citizens demand a reform in the administration of justice.

Annette Planells, of the Independent Movement (Movin), said: “The magistrates of the Court have the constitutional duty to investigate, but they prefer to shield themselves behind a discretionary qualifier called ideal test, in order to avoid fulfilling their duty and to perpetuate impunity”.

Weeden said that it is evident that while the Public Ministry Public tries to seek justice, “the Court and judges go the other way when it comes to prosecuting those who were predators of public funds”

He says that there are magistrates who have demonstrated their unsuitability with their failures.

He gave no names. But he suggested that President  Varela is aware of the error he has made with the appointment of judges of the  Supreme Court

In December 2015, Varela appointed Angela Russo and Cecilio Cedalise.On the day they took office they both voted to re-install the controversial Jose Ayu Prado as president of the Court.

Ayu Prado was appointed Attorney General by Ricardo Martinelli and, after allegations of witness tampering in the Financial Pacific  investigation when Martinelli’s “High Spirit” account was revealed, he was appointed  by Martinelli to the Supreme Court

In December of this year, Varela must name the replacements of Oydén Ortega and Jerónimo Mejía, who retire  as magistrates.

That is why Weeden warns that the Executive must put men or women that have citizen values in the search of justice.in these positions

Freddy Pittí, of the Together We Decide Movement, estimates that to know the truth about the different corruption scandals during the past government, there is a need for commitment and will of the whole justice structure.  He warned that so far what is perceived are actions that leave in impunity cases which injured the heritage of Panamanians.

Like Planells,Ex-judge  Raúl Olmos thinks that it is time to review the so-called ideal test. “For now it is being used at will by the judges of the Court to reject cases or not to conclude others” he warned.



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Deputies nix complaint against judges

All party committee

The  Credentials Committee of the National Assembly,  rejected on Thursday, October 12, a criminal complaint filed against Supreme Court judges José Ayú Prado, Hernán De León and Luis Ramón Fábrega.

The complaint was for the alleged commission of crimes of abuse of authority, infringement of duties of public servants, usurpation of functions and obstruction of the functioning of a State body.

It  was filed in  March, by Magaly Castillo and Rafael Candanedo,of the Citizen Alliance Pro Justicia, alleging that the three judges  appointed staff s of the courts and tribunals of the Judicial District of the accusatory criminal system (SPA) without having  power to do so and ignoring “ex profeso” the procedure determined in Law 53 of 2015, which regulates the judicial career.

The chairman of the Credentials Committee, Luis Eduardo Quirós,  said his colleagues and legal advisers concluded that the judges made the timely decision  “since in the provinces of Panama, Colon and Darien it was necessary to make them [appointments], since it had been postponed. ”

He said that “the implementation of the accusatory criminal system was fundamental and, as time was very short, the judges made decisions for the benefit of the system regardless of the requirement, since the staff were on an interim basis. However, they have a proper training. ”

In all, the judges made 600 appointments. according to the complainants.

The  complaint said the designations were “arbitrary” and have “grave consequences because they compromise the functional independence of judges in charge of the courts.”



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Assembly decision: Panama crisis

Judges Hernán De León, José Ayú Prado and Luis Ramón Fábrega.

THE DECISION of a National Assembly committee to dismiss a criminal complaint against three Supreme Court judges, on Thursday, Oct.12 is a symbol of the pact of non-aggression that the deputies have with the magistrates of the Court. Said Magaly Castillo of the Citizens Alliance For Justice.

“We know the consequences that this pact is bringing to the country,” she said.

A similar opinion was expressed by Maribel Jaén, leader of the Justice and Peace Commission, who reiterated that there is a “serious institutional crisis in the country”.

“The laws have to be enforced and the first to enforce them are the authorities, but when there is a distance between the execution of laws and authority, we are facing an institutional crisis

Citizens For  Justice had initiated a criminal action against José Ayú Prado, Hernán De León and Luis Ramón Fábrega, president and vice-presidents of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ).

The complaint alleged that the three judges ignored their legal duty and imposed their will on Law 53 of 2015, which regulates the judicial career when  calling, interviewing, selecting and appointing “about 600 officials” in an illegal and unconstitutional manner for the courts and tribunals of the First Judicial District for the entry of the criminal accusation system

According to the president of the all-party Credentials Committee, Panamanista deputy Luis Eduardo Quirós, his colleagues and legal advisers concluded that the judges took the timely decision, “since in the provinces of Panama, Colon and Darien it was necessary take this decision [appointments] since it had been delayed. ”

Magaly Castillo said that “it is incredible” how you can appoint judges of the Republic to marginalize the  law and the Constitution.”

“The judicial career law was passed in 2015, two years have passed and still isnot being implemented in the country […] the magistrates flagrantly violate the law and Constitution and nothing happens and it is assumed that they are the ones who dictate the integrity of the population, ” she said.

This is institutionality and has to do with the way in which we arbitrarily appoint judges, ” she said.



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Anti-corruption crusade not political – Varela


THE CURRENT crusade against corruption “is not a  political or partisan  matter”  but something that seeks to “defend the interests of the population”, to benefit all  citizens, “without raising taxes for anyone,” said President Juan Carlos Varela on Saturday, Oct.28.

The fight against corruption “is an effort of all Panamanians for the cleaning of the public administration, “Varela  said during a ribbon cutting ceremony In Divisa, Herrera.

On Friday, dozens of outraged citizens protested in front of the Supreme Court, the place where controversial decisions have been made in recent days in cases in which potential injuries to the State’s  assets or money laundering assets are investigated.

The protest came two days after a ruling of the Twelfth Criminal Court by substitute judge Lania Batista was announced. She denied giving more time to the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office to continue investigating the payment of Odebrecht bribes to Panamanian officials and individuals even though the prosecution caseload had multiplied.

There will be a march against corruption and impunity on Calle 50, on Tuesday. Oct.31, starting at 4.30 pm.



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Assembly and judges  “hands-off” deal thrives

Ironclad judges

THE COSY “hands-off”  relationship between the deputies of Panama’s National Assembly and the judges of the Supreme Court (CSJ)continues  with complaints against those who administer justice from the protected castle on the hill in limbo.

The National Assembly ended its ordinary sessions last week, and Credentials, Regulation, Ethics and Judicial Affairs  Committee, has eight unresolved complaints against CSJ magistrates says a La PrensCommitteea report.

They mostly date from 2016, and finger  Harry Díaz, José Ayú Prado, Hernán De León and Luis Ramón Fábrega.

Based on previous decisions of the committee they will likely  be swept under the carpet to join the  21 complaints against magistrates of the Court that   got short shrift short and were “filed’’ from July 2016 to October 2017.

During that period, the Credentials Committee was chaired by the Panamenista Party deputies Jorge Alberto Rosas y Luis Eduardo Quirós.

Members of civil society question the little work of the Members of the Committee and even affirm that it is proven once again, that between deputies and magistrates there is an agreement not to investigate each other.

There is little chance that the committee will analyze the eight complaints reports La Prensa.



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Judge Harry Diaz, whose name is frequently mentioned in complaints, rose quickly in the government of Ricardo Martinelli to become a Supreme Court Justice in the Penal Division.

Apparently, the ex-President isn't too happy with the lack of protection being provided to him by Judge Diaz, as evidenced in this nasty Tweet this morning.

"I have the mission to unmask the Dirty Harry in front of his family, his friends and all over the country. Denouncehim and demonstrate that he takes bribes and uses shady dealings for personal benefit. God's timing is perfect." RMB

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IMPUNITY: Panama and president get low grades

Post Views: 144
Government attempts at cleaning up Panama’s image took new blows from two experts on Sunday, March 4, with President Varela getting low grades, soon after the country moved further up the “most corrupt” ranking by Transparency International.

Jose Ugaz

José Ugaz, the former Peruvian prosecutor who put Alberto Fujimori behind bars told La Prensa that Panama ranks alongside  Brazil, Peru, El Salvador and Ecuador as the most corrupt countries in Latin America and where corruption dwells, impunity grows.

Having Supreme Court alternate Judges without principles, and others remaining on the bench while the president dithers over finding replacements has serious repercussions because it fails to break the cycle of impunity, leading to the loss of confidence as the population become suspicious, which undermines institutions.

Prosecutors have a work overload, few resources and technical preparation. At times the justice system is permeated by organized crime and corruption. In Panama, some cases have been archived clearly against the law, like Finmeccanica: “A solid case, with a lot of evidence. It would be necessary to ask the judges why it was filed when an exemplary sanction came,” he said.

Solving the corruption problem with a single increase in penalties is a mistake: Corruption is not resolved only in the judicial sphere. There must be political, administrative and prevention. If these measures are not linked to an anti-corruption structure, they are doomed to failure.

Asked why in other countries resign but not in Panama Ugaz said: “ Due to impunity and social tolerance, which does not explode. In other countries,  millions of people are mobilized and the government falls.”

In the realm of impunity, it is up to civil society to mobilize and demand.

On the logic of judges judging deputies and vice versa,  he said: “In democracy, there are independent powers. The issue is not the law but the scoundrels who execute  it.”


Magaly Castillo

Meanwhile, Magaly Castillo who has led the Citizens Alliance for Justice for 16 years told La Estrella that she has never had so much disappointment with the judicial system as now. “It seems that it is no longer worth raising your voice in favor of a better system because nothing happens, demands are filed, nominations of candidates for magistrates do not follow the State Pact. The damage is irreversible,” she said.

“Monitoring of sensitive cases has been suspended because of citizen frustration. We all feel that nothing is happening … hearings are postponed one after the other and there is no way that in this country the Judicial Organ creates order. In principle, the idea was to avoid these dilatory practices ”

The handling of high profile cases has: “Failed completely. I feel that in some cases the Public Ministry has tried to do a job, especially covering  Ricardo Martinelli’s government, not those of Odebrecht or Blue Apple …  all those cases are stuck in the judicial system. That’s what we saw in the follow-up of high-profile cases that we did, there was information in the file, but when they arrived at the Judiciary, it took months until hearing dates were set. Once they are given, they are postponed several times and the judges are allowing it.”

On the delay in naming new judges, Castillo said: It’s as if the president does not understand the magnitude of the problem. Citizens want an independent Court, the appointment of people who have no ties to the Executive, not cousins, wives of ministers etc. Today there is more demand by citizens for independent appointments  … the president is violating the State Pact for Justice after committing himself, to consult with the population when appointing the magistrates.

Varela’s fear
The government is going bad, as one that does not respect democracy, that does not respect justice, that wants to manipulate the Judicial Organ. The people perceive that he wants to control the Supreme Court, that he is afraid of being investigated.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Civil Disapproval of Recent Supreme Court Rulings; President Varela Steps Into the Judicial Effectiveness and Impunity Issues
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CD criminal suspects avoiding  judicial bullet

Roux and Co.
Post Views: 120
FORMER high flying Members of the Democratic Change (CD) Party now facing criminal trials are once again evading the call to justice, through a bizarre Panamanian law that says if they are running for office they have temporary immunity from prosecution.

Some of those currently “seeking office ”like the sons of ex-president Ricardo Martinelli, have already fled the country.

The criminal suspects’ earlier avoidance expired on February 20, after the election of the party’s board of directors.

The prerogative has been reactivated by the call for internal elections to choose district boards, which will be made every weekend from March 10 to June 3.

The Electoral Code establishes that the electoral criminal jurisdiction is in force when the applications are final and up to 15 days after the Electoral Tribunal (TE) proclaims the winners.

The law again paralyzes Public Ministry (MP) investigations of CD members who applied in the new process, among them, the Martinelli offspring, Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares; former ministers Federico Suárez, Jaime Ford and Frank De Lima, and Riccardo Francolini  ex-director of the Caja De Ajorros savings bank

To advance the investigations, the MP must request the TE to rescind the immunity.

The current board of directors of CD, directed by Rómulo Roux, is composed of 15 members, mostly deputies of the National Assembly reports La Prensa.

In the list of candidates for the districtboards are former Finance Minister  Frank De Lima, for the post of undersecretary in the city of Panam, Francolini aspires to a vice-presidency; Jamie Ford, ex- Minister of Public Works will run for Undersecretary of Finance, and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares seeks to be a director

In  West Panama  former of Public Works Minister Federico José Pepe Suárez, is running for  for Secretary General and in Veraguas, Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares -also  a son of the ex-ruler is running.

Ex- president Martinelli  does not appear. He is detained in Miami,  waiting to be extradited to face trial for interception of communications.

Criminal charges
De Lima 
has, at least, three pending criminal proceedings: one for concessions that he granted at the Tocumen airport, another for embezzlement in the parking at  the  terminal and one for bribes from Odebrecht.  He is in El Renacer prison.

Francolini is free on bail pending a hearing s related to alleged irregularities in a  multimillion dollar loan granted to  a  consortium, for the (failed) construction of the Amador convention center.  He  is also charged in  the Odebrecht bribes scandal  Ford and Suarez are being investigated for presumed embezzlement  in a $152.3 million highway  extension They  are also identified in the Odebrecht  investigation  along with The  Martinelli sons who are subjects of an Interpol red alert. Ricardo Martinelli Linares is also being investigated for alleged anomalies in the televised bingo contract Buko Millonario.

Giselle Burillo  ex-head of the Micro, Small and Medium Company  Authority also seeks a position on  the CD district boards Burillo is  on bail facing  two trials for alleged embezzlement.

The  CD called for the board of directors election and three times postponed it.  In the end, the elections took place on January 21, 2018 and Rómulo Roux defeated former President Martinelli. On each  occasion, the criminal suspects extended electoral criminal immunity .



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OPINION:  A bubble of immunity

Martinelli sons,on the run but immune
Post Views: 142
MUCH has been said about the electoral criminal jurisdiction and how it has been abused until it has been converted into a kind of perennial bubble of immunity. At the time, several of the most conspicuous investigated for crimes against the public administration participated in the elections that the CD celebrated in January and, when it seemed that this armor was coming to an end, that party returns to call internal elections. They r reasons will have to spend so much time on it, but it is unusual that some of these nominated candidates do not even actively participate in the election, given that they are not in the country or are unaccounted for. When will be the day on which electoral reforms remove the bond from the Electoral Tribunal and allow it to Immediately effect everything that prevents the Public Prosecutor’s Office from imposing the appropriate precautionary measures?
The electoral authorities should proceed in expeditiously. Not doing so can mark with a stigma the good name of our principal institution in electoral matters. That, in a country thirsting for justice, should not happen … LA PRENSA, Mar. 5.


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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Civil Disapproval of Recent Supreme Court Rulings; President Varela Steps Into the Judicial Effectiveness and Impunity / Immunity Issues
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Anti-corruption group  wants Assembly president sanctioned

UNDER FIRE Yanibel Ábrego.
Post Views: 116
The “Clean Up Panama,”  movement organizer of the demonstration that will take place on Sunday. March 11 at the National Assembly in the premises of the Assembly, has called on the Commission of National Symbols to sanction the president of the Legislative Body,  Yanibel Ábrego.

The request was made after, the fence of the Assembly was covered with Panama flags a few days before the demonstration.

According to lawyer Giovanni Ortega, who is part of the Clean Up Panama movement, the norm that regulates the use of national symbols establishes that people and public entities are prohibited from using them as a container to cover other objects or as a support, reports La Estrella.

The protest on Sunday will demand action on the audits of  Communal Meetings that reveal irregularities in the management of funds by deputies of the past administration.

The audits revealed by the comptroller, Federico Humbert, on February 27, show multiple anomalies, such as invoices with a filing date prior to the printing of the invoice recorded in the same document.

Humbert reported that all the deputies of the past administration received money and many of thee funds were handled without control.

The Finance Ministry identified each deputy with a secret alpha-numeric code, which they were able to decipher. Of the funds allocated, the municipal boards or municipalities charged approximately 10% of the amount handled and the rest, approximately 90%, was used according to the deputy’s instructions.

The supposed use thatfor  the funds was community support ($78 million); food bags ($76 million); construction materials ($26 million); financial assistance ($19,398,324.54); musical instruments ($12 million); repair and maintenance ($6 million).

It was also determined that more than $ 247 million was distributed among almost the deputies, of which 34 deputies from the Democratic Change Party got  ($158.8 million); 7 deputies from the Molinera Party ($36.2 million); 18 deputies of the Democratic Revolutionary Party ($34.7 million); and 10 deputies of the Panameñista Party ($17.1 million); and a Popular Party deputy ($492 000).



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Cleaning Up Corruption -- Supreme Court Rulings; Judicial Effectiveness; National Assembly Effectiveness; Impunity / Immunity Issues, etc.
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Assembly using flag to block corruption  protest

Post Views: 127
In a perceived attempt to stifle a citizen “Clean  Up Panama”   protest planned for Sunday, March 11,  The National Assembly has covered the metal fence that surrounds the building with hundreds of national flags.

The fence was to have been used to hang banners and signs attacking corruption and impunity, with many of the sitting deputies facing probes over misuse of public funds,  likely targets.  of the protesters.

The blocking move was criticized by civil society representatives and organizers of the demonstration.

Ubaldo Davis a broadcast personality and one of those who have called the demonstration, which follows an earlier gathering on the Cinta Costera which drew over 10,000, said that the deputies took the national flag as a shield to “block concentration.”.

Social networks messages say that, despite the tactic, it will not prevent them from displaying their banners with messages in rejection of corruption or from hanging them on the fence.

Law professor and, presidential candidate Miguel Antonio Bernal said that The collation of the flags was  “an act of malignancy by those who are there [in the Assembly]  and they are making an inappropriate use of a patriotic symbol and they use it as an instrument to restrict freedom of expression,” he said.

Paulette Thomas, singer, and businesswoman, said that the deputies have saved participants the work of taking flags to the protest. “I want to invite all, once again, to join us this Sunday 11 at 9 in the morning here at the Assembly. Bring your banners with allusive messages.



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Corruption prosecutors frustrated by laggard justices

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On the eve of a citizen demonstration against corruption and impunity, Panama’s Attorney General Kenia  Porcell, has once again called on officials of the Judicial Branch and the Electoral Tribunal (TE) to promptly resolve the requests of prosecutors to advance high-profile investigations.

At  a Saturday, March 10 press conference  she  addressed the status of high-profile cases, such as Blue Apple, New Business, and Odebrecht, which are paralyzed by decisions that officials have failed to take

In The  Blue Apple, the case of the payment of bribes by  State contractors of officials and individuals, the Sixth Anti-corruption Prosecutor is waiting for the Eighteenth Criminal Court to declare the investigation complex to obtain new deadlines to continue with the investigation.

The New Business case  related to transactions for the purchase of Editora Panamá América, by a group of Martinelli insiders is also swinging in the wind.

In the Odebrecht bribery investigation, by  February 26, four months had elapsed waiting for the Judicial Body to return the file to continue with the investigation. “The  Odebrecht case, is paralyzed  We ask  that you let us investigate,” said Porcell

Substitute judge Lania Batista denied the adequacy of the deadlines of the Odebrecht investigation requested by the special anti-corruption prosecutor Zuleyka Moore after the July 13 case was declared s a complex cause.

On November 6 last year, Attorney Moore appealed the ruling of  Judge Batista. Then, lawyers of the accused in the process appealed

Moore’s decision, alleging that the judge’s ruling is not included among the resources that can be appealed.

The AG also referred to hiding behind party elections to avoid court appearances for some of the accused in high profile cases.

She said a lot of investigations are paralyzed because the TE still does not answer, and”Meanwhile the time of the processes continues running”.

“We find that we have specific investigations … we want to reach the end, we know who they are, we have the information, but we cannot continue because we have the order ‘do not continue’.

She gave as an example the case of wiretapping, which was the first case that the MP referred to the Judicial system in 2015. “We are already going for the sixth suspended hearing.”

Another case that will be asked to be declared reopened as a complex cause is the use of public funds by deputies in the last elections through the communal boards and the municipalities.

On February 27, the Office of the Comptroller sent to the MP 186 audits of the communal boards and municipalities, showing that 70 deputies of the Assembly -39 of them reelected – transferred $247 million to the community boards and abuses and anomalies have been revealed.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Cleaning Up Corruption and Political Power Struggles -- Civil Protests; Supreme Court Rulings; Judicial Effectiveness; National Assembly Effectiveness; Presidential Effectiveness; Impunity / Immunity Issues, etc.

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