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Saturday, May 25 2019 @ 11:08 AM UTC

U.S. accuses Panama judge of corruption, bars him

Corruption PANAMA CITY, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. government has accused a Panamanian Supreme Court judge of corruption and banned him from traveling to the United States. Supreme Court Magistrate Winston Spadafora's visa for travel was canceled "because of severe adverse effects on the national interests of the United States," William Ostick, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Panama, said on Thursday. He said the visa was revoked on Wednesday under anti-corruption laws and gave no further details. A Panamanian civic group, the Citizen's Alliance for Justice, last month asked the National Assembly to investigate Spadafora and seven of his colleagues. The group accused the magistrates of ignoring laws and legal precedents and taking bribes in cases that saw Colombian money-launderers and gun-runners go free. The petition was rejected by Panama's National Assembly on Wednesday, just hours before Washington banned Spadafora from traveling to the United states.

Spadafora said on Thursday in a letter to Panama's Foreign Ministry and seen by Reuters that the charges against him were unfounded.

"I am formally asking your office to demand detailed explanations of the U.S. Embassy for the basis of this action," he said in the letter.

He said he was innocent and that he would not resign.

The case could prove embarrassing for President Martin Torrijos, who took power last year promising a clampdown on corruption.
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