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Prosecutor challenges justice dodging electoral ploy

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Prosecutor  challenges justice dodging electoral ploy

Black money suspects, Ford, De Lima and Martinelli sons running fin CD election
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The controversy between the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP) and the Electoral Tribunal (TE) over Panama ’s controversial practice of impunity from criminal prosecution while standing for political office, even for posts within a party arrived  at the Supreme Court, on Monday, June 4.

The First Prosecutor’s Office Specialized in Drug-related Crimes filed a claim of unconstitutionality before the Court so that the MP is allowed to investigate candidates for a popularly elected position, and members of political parties, without having to request the Court Electoral (TE) to lift the criminal electoral jurisdiction they enjoy.

The appeal filed by Markel Mora calls for the word “investigated” of article 259 of the Electoral Code to be declared unconstitutional, because, in his opinion, the need for an “express and prior authorization of the TE” “makes illusory” the prosecution of the crime.

He adds that by imposing as a limitation the need for the TE to authorize the withdrawal of the presidents, vice presidents, secretaries, and sub-secretaries of the parties, in addition to the candidates, “it violates the equality we all have to be investigated under the ordinary procedure.

Mora,  says that in his opinion, it prevents investigating leaders or members of political parties who aspire to office without prior authorization from the TE reports La Prensa.

Mora’s case, consisting of 13 pages, states that the word “investigated” contained in Electoral Law 259  Article  article violates the Constitution, which establishes that, among the powers of the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP), to  defend the interests of the State, promote compliance with laws, monitor the conduct of officials and take care so that all comply with their duties.

It adds that article 259 of the electoral law “curtails” the legal duty of the State to investigate crime through the MP, since it establishes a prerogative to try to run for a position of popular election, a fact that, he adds, prevents the exercise of the criminal action.

The prosecutor also maintains that the word he considers unconstitutional prevents prosecuting the actors of the electoral process since this requires express and prior permission of the TE, “which makes illusory” the exercise of prosecution of crime.

“It is a limitation to the power of the MP in organized crime issues or with the structural apparatus of power,” he said.

Several processes advanced by the Public Prosecutor’s Office have been delayed, due to the fact that some of those investigated enjoy electoral criminal jurisdiction, in internal processes of political parties.

This is the case, for example, of the Odebrecht bribery payment investigation, in which it was requested to undo the brothers Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, the former public works ministers Jaime Ford and Federico Suárez, aspiring to positions in the different structures of Cambio Democrático (CD).

The same happened with several cases involving businessman Riccardo Francolini, former Minister of Economy and Finance Frank De Lima, and former vice-president “Pipo” Virzi among others.

The electoral law stipulates that the electoral criminal jurisdiction shall be in force as of the time the applications are finally accepted and up to 15 days after the TE proclaims the winners.



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