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Panama as a Failing (Failed?) State -- Freedom of the Press and Human Rights Under Attack Through Legal Processes; Asset Seizures as a Political Weapon; Judicial Corruption; Former President Balladares Freezes La Prensa Assets, etc.

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OPINION: Judicial bribery scandal widens


Posted 29/10/2019

The scandal of the Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito San Antonio, RL (Cacsa) deepens. It now includes a new chapter, related to the subtraction of information from the lawyer's computer that helped draw attention to this scandal. If this serious complaint about the deletion of email archives is true, they would show that there is a further interest in silencing the dispute, in order to avoid investigations.

 At the center of this plot, Panamanians see our justice reflected, full-length. The charges against Cacsa are very delicate since they imply that payments were approved to cover possible charges to members of the Supreme Court of Justice, and thus guarantee a favorable outcome in a civil law suit.

 This reminds us of the revelations that a Panamanian lawyer made before potential Russian clients in Spain, in which he recognized how judicial influence was acquired - by way of bribery - to magistrates of the Court. Precisely, for all that is at stake, the case of Cacsa requires the greatest possible clarity. In these times nobody pays more without expecting anything in return. – LA PRENSA, Oct.29



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Panama at risk of failed state say business leaders


Posted 12/11/2019

Panama risks becoming a failed state if it doesn’t  develop a  framework to strengthen a true rule of law that is characterized by the separation of powers, the certainty of punishment and a system of fair justice, in order to ensure a development and a climate of both social and political stability, needs as soon as possible  says Panama’s Chamber of Commerce. Industry and Agriculture (Cciap) in the wake of revelations of Instagram messaging between former president Juan Carlos Varela, the Attorney General Kenia Porcell, political figures and business leaders.

On Monday, November 11, the president of the Chamber,  Jorge Juan de la Guardia, said that the exchange of conversations between Varela and Porcell, "opens the space of doubt for the affirmation of a selective justice that requires explanations of those who still occupy the position of command and jurisdiction".

“The content of the communications  evidences once again, the institutional crisis we are experiencing, especially as regards the separation of state powers and the administration of Justice

"Both the fact of intrusion into private conversations and the disclosure of its content is condemnable.

"However, the content of what was revealed and admitted as partially true by those who were intervened, leads us to raise, once again, our voice in order to correct the course and propose possible solutions," said de la Guardia.

Varela acknowledged, on Thursday, that some messages are "correct", and other texts have been "manipulated, aimed at weakening the role of the State" and pointed to former president Ricardo Martinelli as allegedly responsible for the anonymous site that leaked private communications between 2017 and 2018.

The Chamber urged   the productive sectors of the country to be involved in the call made by the current Executive Branch and participate in the working groups in order to propose improvements to the package of constitutional reforms that ensures such separation of powers and proposes changes in the form of selection of both the Attorney General's Office and the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, as well as their investigation .



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to The Justice System of Panama Is Flawed and/or Sick, Leading Some to Conclude that Panama Is A Failing State
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High profile corruption cases stalled in courts

Posted 13/11/2019

Three hearings of high profile cases of corruption and money laundering were suspended for various reasons. of corruption and money laundering underscoring complaints by prosecutors  about the  debilitating slowness of the Judicial Branch

Heading the list is  the preliminary hearing of those allegedly involved in money laundering crimes through the law firm  Mossack Fonseca  which  exploded on the world stage  as The Panama Papers and  became the subject of a Hollywood movie, The Laundromat. The case has been adjourned by the 18th   Criminal Court.

This file originally investigates Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca Mora, founders of the law firm that bears their name as well as Edison Teano and María Mercedes Riaño, who headed the firm in Brazil. And lawyer Ramsés Owens who is wanted in the US.

All of them are  on bail but unable to leave the country.

The hearing scheduled for Wednesday was suspended because one of the accused changed his  lawyer and the new one  requested time to know the file. The preliminary hearing was re-set for December 10-16.

On  Wednesday the Thirteenth Criminal Court suspended the trial of Mayer Mizrachi , the former director of the AIG; Eduardo Enrique Jaén; Adonay Ortega Sánchez, Eduardo Augusto Briceño Ávila and Edgar Ariel Rodríguez.

The trial was suspended because the  Supreme Court received an amparo of  unconstitutionality presented by the defense of Mizrachi. The court did not set an alternate date for the hearing, as it is unknown when it  will resolve the amparo

, the Sixteenth Criminal Court also suspended on Wednesday a trial of five former officials of the Authority of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Ampyme) , for embezzlement.

The hearing is now set for the December 2,- 10.



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Globetrotting judges up expenses 93%, staff get bonus cut


Posted 09/12/2019

In spite the budget problems of Panama’s  Supreme Court of Justice, the judges  racked up travel expenses of $64,540 for between January and September 2019.

In the same period of 2018, the expense incurred by the magistrates in this concept totaled $33, 512, that is,  an increase of 92.5%.

The report comes at the same time as a memo circulated to lower-level judicial staff that because of austerity, Christmas bonuses would be limited to $300.

According to a report by the Judicial Branch, the president of the Court, Hernán De León, is the one who made the most trips

José Ayú Prado, whose overseas trips over the years are legendary is the second in the list of magistrates that records most expenses in per diem and tickets to attend activities in China, Austria, the United States, and Spain.

The document details that magistrates traveled to participate in workshops, world conferences, courses, congresses and regional meetings of magistrates and judges.

On the other hand, in the list of Judicial Organ officials who have traveled there are 13 assistants of judges of the plenary of the Court. Magistrates of the Second Superior Court also appear, such as María Luisa Vijil de Laniado and Secundino Mendieta.

In the report of the Judicial Branch, there are no trips by magistrates Harry Diaz, Jerónimo Mejía and Olmedo Arrocha.

As part of the measures to reduce operating and investment expenses, in the spending containment plans announced in  July, the Executive stated that the Judicial Branch should reduce at least $10.2 million.

Between January and September 2019, the expenses on travel expenses and transportation abroad of the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) and officials of the Judicial Branch totaled $254,319

For the same period of 2018, the cost was  $239,000, according to a report published on the website of the Judicial Branch.

That is to say, an increase in travel and per diem for the order of $ 14. 412 dollars, despite the lack of resources for justice, an issue that has been the source of complaints by the president of the Court, Hernán De León, and in the middle of a announced state policy of containment of public spending.

On November 26, when supporting an extraordinary credit in the Budget Committee of the National Assembly, of about $14 million, Judges José Ayú Prado and Luis Ramón Fábrega spoke about the limitations of resources in the Judicial system reports La Prensa.

in October of this year, when five magistrates attended the Assembly to support the 2020 Judicial budget, they said the cuts would impede the full execution of the desired judicial career, to which $10 million had been allocated. The magistrates asked for $250 million  but the Ministry of Economy and Finance recommended $166 million

According to the report, in 2019 De León traveled seven times abroad. He visited countries like Guatemala, Austria, China, Portugal, Colombia and he was twice in Spain.

Ayú Prado, from the Criminal Chamber, also traveled to China and other countries such as Austria, the United States and twice to Spain. While magistrates Cecilio Cedalise, Abel Augusto Zamorano and Luis Ramón Fábrega traveled twice each.




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OPINION: Crumbling justice system no brake to jetsetters


Supreme Court judges De Leon and Ayu Prado head list of big spenders

Posted 09/12/2019

At the end of 2019, the results of the Panamanian justice are not very flattering. This year, the judicial system gave the country some of the worst rulings in Republican history. As if that were not enough, the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice spent on trips abroad more than the year previous. What is the benefit of this? Apart from the air miles that traveling magistrates accumulate and the growth of their network of personal and professional contacts, it is very little reflected in the behavior and performance of the Court.

Meanwhile, there is no judicial career, because in their argument they say it is due to lack of money. Additionally, other needs of the judicial system are also forgotten: vehicles are scarce to make notifications or lack adequate training, such as for the guarantee judges of the accusatory criminal system. We Panamanians hope that the year 2020 can give us the opportunity of a new board of directors of the Supreme Court of Justice, with their feet on the ground and the commitment to justice. So be it.- LA PRENSA,Dec.9



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Supreme Court packed with questionable figures says judge


Posted 21/12/2019

Panama’s Supreme Court is inhabited with morally questionable figures in key positions who damage the image of the institution, says outgoing judge Harry Diaz in a report on his eight years service published on Friday, December 20.

"This institution suffers like many others, from morally questioned figures who unfortunately are empowered by multiple key positions," he said.

Díaz magistrate of the Second Criminal Chamber did not reveal the names of those figures reports TVN. He said he concludes his period with the peace of mind of having maintained a constant task in favor of improving the administration of justice.

He questioned  the operation of  the SPA accusatory  system  which is currently coordinated by Judge José Ayú Prado

“ From an inquiring extreme we went to another guaranteeing extreme. The balance is fundamental, the oral system is overvalued and saturated with audiences that are largely of subsequent control,which subjects the administration of justice (both the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Judicial Branch) to continuous wear and tear. it has led the accusatory system to collapse, as I predicted in February 2016, ”Díaz said in his report.

The solution to give the Accusatory Criminal System a break is to eliminate subsequent control hearings.

Díaz also said that it was necessary to concentrate on the implementation of the Judicial Career and apply the new procedural system gradually. In addition, they had to obtain the necessary funds to apply the SPA adequately throughout the country.



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OPINION: When “political persecution” means impunity


Panama Supreme Court

Posted 22/12/2019

Within the entire network of corruption cases initiated by the attorney general of the Nation, many are pending. In the processes derived from the National Aid Program (PAN) alone Millions of dollars were detected in badly placed monies in accounts in Switzerland, yachts and investments in mansions in Florida.

The actions of the Public Ministry were disqualified as “selective” or executor of a “political persecution”. The truth is that never in the history of the country,  had public coffers been looted on the scale and magnitude that we barely began to know. Justice is the great debt of Panamanian democracy. If impunity continues to triumph and triumph in the judicial courts, we will have lost the country – LA PRENSA, Dec.22.



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HIgh profile corruption cases head to impunity judge


Posted 23/12/2019

The controversial fifteenth criminal court judge, Leslie Loaiza, renowned for his impunity rulings in high profile cases could be in charge of a trial for alleged embezzlement in the construction of the Brazil corridor, section II, by the Spanish construction company FCC.

This would be the result of a petition filed by the defense of the former Minister of Public Works Francisco Suárez filed a petition so that said a case  - currently under the jurisdiction of the Eleventh Criminal Court – be accumulated in the office of Loaiza, who handles another process linked to FCC, over the extension of the Vía Cincuentenario.

Judicial sources confirmed to La Prensa that the request was submitted last week and that Loaiza must decide if both files are accumulated in a single process.

However, the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office filed a notice of opposition against the petition as both files are at different procedural stages  and their accumulation would affect the processing of both.

The Public Ministry says that in the case of the Vía Cincuentenario, Loaiza set a preliminary hearing date, while the process of the Vía Brazil corridor, section II, is still in the investigation phase and the prosecution is awaiting judicial assistance from Switzerland, Costa Rica and the Netherlands. The case was declared complex on December 6 and the prosecution has one more year to conclude the investigations.

Former minister Suarez is charged in both cases, in which the Comptroller said there were cost overruns. According to the Comptroller the initial cost of the project was $122 million and it ended up costing $136.7 million.

In the meantime, the file on the alleged embezzlement in the construction of the Vía Brazil corridor, section II, is under investigation and the resources inherent in this process are resolved by the Eleventh Criminal Court, in charge of Judge Nixela Aizpurúa.

In addition, the prosecution charged 14 people alleged embezzlement, and one for money laundering.

Among the defendants is the former Chief of Contract Administration of the MOP Jorge Churro Ruiz

Movin leader Annette Planells sai: “How can citizens trust in justice when, despite 18 criminal courts, the vast majority of high profile cases mysteriously fell into Judge Leslie Loaiza's court. His controversial filings seem to justify impunity in sometimes incomprehensible technicalities, ignoring confessions, Comptroller's audits or expert opinions. “Even criticizing civil society for questioning it. The saddest thing of all is that there is no Integrity and Transparency Court to complain about the refusal of the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice to implement the Judicial Career. ”

Among the decisions of Loaiza, the recent dismissal of the accused in the case of the alleged cost overrun in the purchase of dehydrated food through the extinct National Assistance Program (PAN) stands out.

Likewise, the 16 defendants were definitively dismissed for alleged embezzlement in the purchase of backpacks through the (PAN; and declared void the inquiries of four former state ministers for the acquisition of grain, also through the PAN.

In April 2017, he revoked the order to take inquiries from the businessman Fotis Lymberópulos issued by the Second Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, as part of the process of  alleged overpricing in the rental of helicopters through the PAN

Last August, the ex- CD candidate deputy Heriberto Vega and the former PAN director Giacomo Taburrelli were dismissed for alleged embezzlement related to the construction of works in Herrera.



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OPINION: Judicial farce must end


Posted 23/12/2019

CORRUPTION cases related to the Spanish construction company FCC are before different courts, pending the respective legal proceedings. One of the defense lawyers that participates in this process intends that all cases be accumulated in the hands of the same judge: Leslie Loiza, who heads the Fifteenth Criminal Circuit Court and, luckily, has been responsible for deciding the first 40% instance of high profile corruption cases in recent years. This, despite the fact that there are dozens of judges who by lot should know about these causes.

The controversial decisions of Judge Loiza have been disastrous for Panamanian justice and, although sometimes his r superiors have annulled them, this judge remains unaffected by imparting impunity from his office.

It is unacceptable that his superiors have not carried out a judicial audit or a detailed investigation of his behavior and the unworthy pronouncements he has uttered. Citizens must support the request of the Public Ministry that FCC cases be kept separate. Judge Loaiza's farce must end - LA PRENSA, Dec. 23.



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75% of corruption cases resting in court


Posted 24/12/2019

The report of the outgoing  Attorney General, Kenia Porcell, shows that of the 116 corruption cases sent to the courts, 75% still await a hearing,  has fired up reactions both inside and outside the Supreme Court

Consulted by La Prensa on the issue two magistrates of the Court, who preferred not to give their names, agreed that it would be wise to do a judicial audit to be certain in each case to avoid that “the generalization creates confusion. "

In her management report (2015-2019), released on  Friday, December 20, Porcell wrote that the fact that 75% of corruption cases are pending hearing “means that criminal justice does not fulfill its purposes when it faces economic, political, social or media power ”.

Porcell, who announced her resignation on November 12 from January 2, 2020, said that during the last five years the fight against corruption and organized crime was a direct confrontation against a criminal organization from power that managed to divert one billion dollars from public funds to private pockets. "These investigations must conclude in significant sentences and therefore we must, as a society, be vigilant and demand that the processes conclude with the punishment for those responsible and the reimbursement of public money," she said.

Because of the seriousness of the statements, lawyer Ernesto Cedeño filed a petition before the Court on Monday, December 23 to rule on the issue.

Cedeño alleges that the full Court has the duty to rule and determine whether this situation of judicial lag is due to extra-procedural situations. In addition, he requested that corrective measures be taken to achieve greater fluency in the administration of justice.

The Court will choose a new board of directors for the period 2020-2022 on January 2. In this election, the three new magistrates appointed by Laurentino Cortizo may vote: María Eugenia López, Carlos Vásquez Reyes and Maribel Cornejo.



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On 12/25/2019 at 1:28 AM, Keith Woolford said:


This judge acquits so quickly that he can move through 40% of the high profile corruption trials in Criminal Circuit Courts. 


The above Judge sat down for a LaPrensa interview last week for the column "Knockout".


This story followed on December 30th.

Leslie Loaiza, fifteenth criminal judge, refused to accumulate in a single file the summaries followed to the former Minister of Public Works concerning Federico Suárez, for the alleged commission of crimes against the public administration, to the detriment of the Ministry of Public Works (MOP).

This was announced yesterday by the Judicial Branch in a statement. The document detailed that the decision was taken on December 30 through Auto 204.

In recent days Rosendo Miranda, defense lawyer of Suárez, filed a petition so that the case followed by the former minister for alleged irregularities in the construction of the Vía Brasil corridor, section II, work that was done by Spanish construction company FCC, was accumulated in the office of Loaiza, who is handling another process of Suárez, related to the extension of the Via Cincuentenario, work that was done by Odebrecht.

The case related to Vía Brasil is currently under the jurisdiction of the Eleventh Criminal Court. The Fifteenth Court also manages another case of Suárez, which is followed by an alleged cost overrun on Domingo Díaz, a work that was in charge of Ingenieros Civiles y Asociados, S.A. and the construction company Meco.

The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office had filed an appeal before the court opposing the accumulation of the proceedings. He argued that "the facts and crimes charged are different in time, manner and place.

 Loaiza, this time coincided with the prosecution. He said that the cases do not have the same defendants, together with the fact that they are different facts, committed at different times. "There is no connection between them."

He added that the aforementioned processes are at different procedural moments, and that accepting said petition "would violate guarantees and fundamental rights of the accused."


Loaiza has been in the public eye for the treatment she has given to cases where corruption is investigated. He has in his office 40% of the high profile cases in which corruption is investigated. Many of those investigated in these processes have been set free of charge.

In the Knockout published by La Prensa last Sunday, the controversial judge assured, for example, that he has his own definition of peculation, when he states that: “… I have authors who say that for there to be embezzlement economic heritage is referred to. The judges are independent in our discretion.”


This is the link to the Knockout interview if anyone wants to translate it.



Edited by Keith Woolford
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OPINION: Criminals disguised as judges,,politicians

Posted 06/01/2020

When the rules of the Accusatory Criminal System were established under the principle of procedural equality of the parties, the corruption of the deputies was vulnerable. The complicity of the great majority of the members of the National Assembly in the period 2009-2014 blinded them against complaints for their alleged participation in criminal behavior. Hence the infamous "ideal test" was born. With the presentation of Judge Olmedo Arrocha, the Supreme Court decided that Deputy Sergio Gálvez is exempt from being investigated in the case of Buko Millonario, precisely because of the lack of suitable evidence. In order to be corrupt, two parties are needed, just as to guarantee the impunity of the deputies, the Supreme Court of Justice is needed. If the magistrates wanted, they themselves would have repealed as unconstitutional the norm of the Criminal Procedure Code that bases impunity. However, the occupiers of the Court, even those who claim to be renovators, know that the deputies can also investigate them. While this double impunity lasts, the country will be held hostage by criminals and corrupt disguised as politicians and magistrates LA PRENSA, Jan.6



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Panama’s unique tool to stall justice


Posted 08/01/2020

The electoral criminal jurisdiction remains an exaggerated and unnecessary shield against justice. As are the electoral rules, from the moment a person begins his participation in an internal process of a political party, it is covered by the jurisdiction.

 Not only do the candidates benefit from this armor, but also the organizers, jurors, board members, and the party hierarchy are protected. This armor reappeared as a threat, in the case of Pandeportes, against former Adolfo Valderrama. After overcoming that obstacle, a collection of signatures appears on the horizon to call elections in the Democratic Change party. just when very high profile cases approach crucial stages and involve members of that party, These internal elections will give jurisdiction to many of those mentioned in prosecutors and courts.

The consequences of this generous shield are visible. The country has the opportunity to correct this abuse that they only have the candidates for elected positions in the final tournaments, .in the National Commission of Electoral Reforms, which will soon begin its work.  Keeping it as it is is another mockery against democracy and justice. - LA PRENSA, Jan 8



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Cortizo promises firing and jail for kickbacks


Posted 17/01/2020

In an impassioned speech at the close of the Agricultural Cabinet Council, held in Chiriquí on Thursday, January "16 President  Laurentino Cortizo, on Thursday,  January 16 made a call to magistrates, judges and the comptroller to "pull up their socks and prosecute any official who asks for kickbacks in exchange for a contract.

"In this government, it is not necessary to pay bribes to obtain a contract or expedite a process," said Cortizo

"You are warned ... don't use my name, you know me, don't provoke me. No PRD member, no vice-minister ... Don't test me," Cortizo added.

The President specifically mentioned two entities Idaan and the Sanitation Authority. "I have an eye on them."

"The one who dares, I will feel it and I will get him to sing. After I throw him away and  take him to the Public Ministry to put him in prison."

"Put me to the test they didn't make me with condensed milk, I'm not here to play the little games," Cortizo said. "They must understand that we are here to work and serve the people, that is why we are here, not to rob," said Cortizo



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Justice delayed fans impunity

Posted 26/01/2020

Seneca already said: “ Nothing is so much like injustice as late justice" And our Supreme Court of Justice, in addition to fanning impunity, when it tries to do justice ends in a cartoon, because many of its decisions arrive so late that they end up being unfair to their protagonists. And of these failures abound, some of them, emblematic, like the one that decreed the nullity of the land concession contract where the Playa Bonita hotel was built, in Veracruz; or the case of the law contract with the mining company Petaquilla - which now has Minera Panama in limbo -; or the few failures that cancel environmental impact studies when the projects they refer to have been executed, or a very recent one, in which the Court lost jurisdiction, after years of having the Cemis case in its hands. And now the magistrates issue a ruling on a land conflict in Darien that comes with years of delay and that will probably cause new conflicts, as they already occurred in the past in this same controversy, in which several settlers were accused of having invaded land Indigenous people in Darién. Doing justice is a privilege, but doing it late is a mockery.- LA  PRENSA,  Jan.26



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Gun toting mol gets plea deal, seeks community work


Posted 29/02/2020

A video circulated on social networks on the last day of Carnival that showed Dagney Yineth Ryfkogel Oquendo, 29 who, when arrested by National Police agents on the bridge of the Americas, took a gun from her shorts and threw it over the railings.

Before being handcuffed, she threw herself self on the ground and began to writhe provocatively in front of the officers. Meanwhile, they arrested several men traveling with her to Panama City.

Ryfkogel Oquendo already had a criminal record. She was investigated for armed robbery, and e was acquitted.but while in detention she escaped from jail, and was convicted of evasion.

Despite this background,  reports La Prensa, prosecutor Xochilt Castillo and defender Raymundo González agreed to a penalty deal and were sentenced to 50 months in jail, as well as a ban on carrying weapons once the sentence is served.

According to Castillo, the weapon was found and belonged to a 27-year-old man who was traveling with her in the vehicle. He is investigated for the alleged illegal possession and trafficking of weapons and explosives.

At a hearing on February 26, the woman accepted the crimes of concealment and obstruction of the work of a public servant and requested that the penalty be replaced by community work, a request that the Public Ministry did not oppose.

The request, however, was denied, because her lawyer did not specify where she would do the work. In the afternoon of yesterday, the judge of guarantees Tulia Morelos denied  the petition for the second because the defense did not present documents such as the endorsement of the health center of El Chorrillo Health  Center , where she intended to serve her sentence doing community work



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OPINION: Flagrant abuse  of justice system

Posted 29/02/2020

A small piece of the Panamanian justice puzzle serves as a sample for the analysis of public opinion. A woman with a criminal record threw a gun from the Bridge of the Americas after having disrespected police officers who were doing their job. Both the Public Prosecutor's Office and the guarantee court accepted a penalty agreement, when there was allegedly en flagrante offense, without requesting cooperation to solve other crimes.

Although she was not granted community work as a substitute for the 50 months in prison-issued against her, the mere fact of conducting a hearing to discuss such a frightening request. Is it that neither the prosecutor nor the judge understood what this behavior really is about? The attorney general of the Nation, Eduardo Ulloa, has the task of refining the criteria of his prosecutors to accept penalty agreements. It is intolerable that a health center or school had been the destination of the criminal's community work. Justice is not only what the codes say, but also what society needs. – LA PRENSA, Feb.29



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OPINION; Panama justice on hold


Posted 16/05/2020

ACCESS  to justice is an inalienable human right. This public service is essential for the proper functioning of society; compliance with family, labor, commercial and civil obligations, as well as the resolution of conflicts in a peaceful and effective manner.

The closure of most judicial offices, for health reasons, has been depriving Panamanians of the exercise and defense of their rights for more than two months. Saving lives by avoiding contagion from overcrowding and crowding in courts and tribunals has been a responsible measure that, however, deserves further consideration. The Judicial Branch has had sufficient time to evaluate the use of technological tools and other ways of conflict resolution that could well begin the reconversion of justice to an activity compatible with the criteria of the 21st century. Constitutional guarantees and due process are not negotiable, so judicial activity, on which 4 million Panamanians and tens of thousands of lawyers and other professionals depend, must continue.- LA PRENSA, May 16



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Ex-presidents head list of stalled corruption cases


Ricardo Martinelli and ons face Odebrecht probe

Posted 27/05/2020

Eduardo Ulloa Panama’s Attorney General has shuffled the deck of his top level criminal prosecutors leaving some observers concerned that some prominent suspects in high profile corruption cases could walk free or with   wrist slap.

 Zuleyka Moore is  out of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, which is investigating  Odebrecht bribes totaling some $90 million. The case will be in the hands of Anilú Batista and Azucena Aizpurúa, who were assigned to by Ulloa in February

Tania Sterling and Ruth Morcillo will also continue to collaborate with the process.  The rotation announced on Tuesday also has an impact on the  Blue Apple  case , which was handled by the prosecutor Aurelio Vásquez, who will now be in a family office.

The special prosecutor's office and the future of corruption processes

Two prosecutors who joined the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office last February will be in charge of the Odebrecht case, considered the emblematic investigation linked to corruption in recent times.

These are Anilú Batista and Azucena Aizpurúa, who worked with Zuleyka Moore in the investigation.

Starting June 1, Moore will be the coordinator of the Panama West Regional Prosecutor's Office.

The arrival of Batista and Aizpurúa in the case last February was one of the first movements that Ulloa made after he took office on January 2.

Batista worked as a circuit prosecutor for the Early Decision and Litigation section, while Aizpurúa was a superior prosecutor ad honorem in the Prosecutor's Office for Superior Litigation.

In this scenario, anti-corruption prosecutors Tania Sterling and Ruth Morcillo, who are currently in charge of investigating the process, will collaborate with the mother case.

In the Public Ministry, they say that the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office “is a corporate office” and therefore the cases are seen together. "All the prosecutors who make it up have the same hierarchical level and any of those who make it up can act in each of the cases they handle, as a team of prosecutors," they said.

The origins
The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office is was created on January 28, 2016, days after it was announced in the United States that Odebrecht had bribed Panamanian officials and individuals to obtain huge contracts.

Kenia Porcell, who then served as Attorney General, appointed four women to that office: Zuleyka Moore, Tania Sterling, Ruth Morcillo and Vielka Broce.

Broce retired in 2019. Her cases were distributed among her former colleagues.

Now, with the rotations ordered by Ulloa, that prosecution will be made up of Batista, Aizpurúa, Sterling, and Morcillo. This team will also be in charge of another of the significant cases: Blue Apple, the investigation that was carried out by Aurelio Vásquez, who will now have the position of Superior Prosecutor, Coordinator of Investigation and Assistance to Trial in the Family Section.

The Public Ministry  reported that the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office will have “five other supporting prosecutors” and that there are the superior anti-corruption prosecutors, under  Adecio Mojica and Leyda Sáenz.

Mojica is in charge of processes such as the National Assembly payroll and contracts, the money laundering through the defunct National Aid Program and the Savings Bank scandal

Meanwhile, Sáenz advances the case linked to alleged irregularities in the funds distributed by the Panamanian Sports Institute (Pandeportes)   in the government of former President Juan Carlos Varela.

The movements in the prosecutors' offices were announced after lawyers, and followers of ex-president  Ricardo Martinelli said that prosecutors appointed by ex AG Kenia Porcell continued to lead the corruption investigations of the Public Ministry and that this would delay the cases. against Juan Carlos Varela.

Recently, the Assembly  Credentials Commission sent  10 cases against Varela and 3 against the ex-vice president Isabel De Saint Malo,  to the Public Ministry.

Currently , the work of the anti-corruption prosecutors is on hold  due to the pandemic. With court terms suspended and the files kept. Everything is slated to return to normal on June 8.

Odebrecht is one of the cases that must be reactivated. On March 12, the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office imposed the precautionary measure to prevent the doctor Jaime Lasso, who in the past proclaimed himself as a “lobbyist” for the company from leaving Panama.

According to the investigation, through different companies linked to Lasso, the Brazilian construction company gave at least $ 0 million to the Panameñista Party led former President Varela at the time.

But, says La Prensa, the case also reaches the “zero circle_ of Martinelli when he was president including former Minister Demetrio Jimmy Papadimitriu, who would have received at least $4 million from Odebrecht through companies linked to his parents.

Martinelli’s sons   Luis Enrique  and  Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares  are also involved , as, according to former executives of Odebrecjt ,  they also received millions of dollars through different companies. Neither of them has faced the process. Their  whereabouts are unknown.

Ex-president’s dockets
Also on the list are the processes involving Ricardo Martinelli

Six cases were sent to the Supreme  Court.

These are the investigations for alleged irregularities in the collection of taxes through  Cobranzas del Istmo SA .; the complaint filed by Aurelio Camano for alleged anomalies in the sale of land in Veraguas; the complaint for granting pardons to people convicted and prosecuted for common crimes;  alleged irregularities in the granting of a loan from the Savings Bank;  alleged anomalies in the purchase of dehydrated food; and the complaint filed by the Superintendency of the Securities Market for the alleged use of privileged information for the purchase of shares in Petaquilla Minerals through the defunct Financial Pacific (FP). brokerage.  



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Panama - the continent’s laughingstock


Posted 01/06/2020

There are unequivocal signs that lead to the conclusion that there is an unwritten pact to neutralize the actions of the Public Ministry in high-profile cases. The events have been triggered from the moment the current Attorney General took office, last January.

Cases have stalled; prosecutor rotations lack practicality; the defense teams of the accused are loosening their management in favor of their clients, including the withdrawal of resources that they intended to delay their processes. One by one, each piece begins to fall in the exact place. By the time the puzzle is complete, we will be the laughingstock of the continent, with solid, documented, and proven cases that will end in shameful, but traditional impunity.

With everything, There are those who tear their clothes crying for justice because Panama does not get off the blacklists. But, at the same time, we do not renounce the most rampant corruption in the three organs of the State. With genuflex authorities, we will be condemned to live sick from the corruption pandemic. - LA PRENSA  June 1



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Court  ruling denounced as blow to press freedom


Elkis Martinez

Posted 11/06/2020

The  Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) cataloged the judicial order of the judge of guarantees Elkis Martínez to prohibit La Prensa from publishing images of the lawyer Janio Lescure, who cannot be investigated as a "serious antecedent" for press freedom.

Martínez made the decision on  Monday, June 8, at a hearing on the violation of rights in the First Judicial District of Panama, under the rules of the accusatory criminal system.

The decision is related to the criminal proceeding that follows the president of Corporación La Prensa (Corprensa), Diego Quijano , and associate director Rolando Rodríguez, for the alleged crimes against honor to the detriment of Lescure.

IAPA President Christopher Barnes and Roberto Rock, President of the Commission on Freedom of the Press and Information, agreed on Thursday, June 11, that Martínez's opinion "is a serious antecedent," which violates international standards and constitutional rights. on press freedom.

Barnes and Rock urged to reverse "the prior censorship ruling that seeks to muzzle investigative journalism on matters in the public domain."

images of the lawyer Janio Lescure, who cannot be investigated as a "serious antecedent" for press freedom .

Martínez made the decision on  Monday, June 8, at a hearing on the violation of rights in the First Judicial District of Panama, under the rules of the accusatory criminal system.

The decision is related to the criminal proceeding that follows the president of Corporación La Prensa (Corprensa), Diego Quijano , and associate director Rolando Rodríguez , for the alleged crimes against honor to the detriment of Lescure.

IAPA President Christopher Barnes and Roberto Rock , President of the Commission on Freedom of the Press and Information, agreed on Thursday, June 11, that Martínez's opinion "is a serious antecedent," which violates international standards and constitutional rights. on press freedom.

Barnes and Rock urged to reverse "the prior censorship ruling that seeks to muzzle investigative journalism on matters in the public domain."

Roberto Eisenmann , founder of r La Prensa , said it is the first time he knows that a judge prohibits a media outlet from using a photo of a news event.

"It is outrageous regarding press freedom ... What kind of justice are we creating? It is a really worrying threat to freedom of the press and of opinion ... Freedom of the press is not the freedom of a newspaper; it belongs to the citizens ”, he said.



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Protección a Lescure atenta contra el derecho universal

Eliana Morales Gil
15 jun 2020 - 12:00 AM


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Controversial judge sidelined on vacation


Posted 22/06/2020

The controversial judge Leslie Loaiza whose frequent decisions in favor of high profile members of the Ricardo Martinelli administration angered civil rights activists has been sent on vacation for seven months at a time when the Fifteenth Court closed as part of the reorganization of the criminal courts of the mixed inquisitive system following the implementation, as of 2016, of the accusatory criminal system.

A number of his judgments remain under appeal.

According to the Judicial Branch, the files of the Fifteenth Court, which closed on June 15, were sent to the Single Registry of Entry, in order to be distributed randomly, to the Tenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Courts of Panama's criminal circuit with functions of liquidators.

Loaiza has made controversial decisions in cases such as backpacks, grain, and helicopter rentals, all linked to former officials of the Martinelli government.

On June 15, the Second Court, in charge of Johan Barrios, also closed for the same reasons. The records of this court suffer the same fate as those that rested in Loaiza's office.

But, unlike Loaiza, Barrios was placed in the Second Court of Justice, as an assistant judge, according to  La Prensa ources.

The transition process is coordinated by the Second Court of Justice.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Panama as a Failing (Failed?) State -- Freedom of the Press and Human Rights Under Attack Through Legal Processes; Asset Seizures as a Political Weapon; Judicial Corruption; Former President Balladares Freezes La Prensa Assets, etc.

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