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Thursday, May 23 2019 @ 11:28 PM UTC

Cristobal Santiago Fundora - Ex PDF Colonel, Dies in Accident

Panama News

By DON WINNER for - Cristóbal Santiago Fundora, a retired Commander of the former Panamanian Air Force died on his farm in Bijao, just south of Volcan in Panama's Chiriqui province. According to a family employee Fundora had gone down to a river to gather up some rocks, and when returning his tractor rolled over and he was crushed underneath. Fundora was also a former Director of the National Air Service. He was 61 years old, was married and had four grown children. After his retirement he became a dairy farmer. (more)

Held Until Just Cause - Attempted Coup: On 16 March 1988 Major Cristobal Santiago Fundora, along with 21 others, attempted a coup against Manuel Noriega in Panama. He was arrested and remained in custody until he was freed after Operation Just Cause on 20 December 1989. By his own accounts of his detention he was brutally tortured while in custody and reportedly said he "had a plate in his head" thanks to Noriega. This was taken from the 1989 report from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Chaper 5, Panama;

  • "A clear example of the failure to respect even the most elementary legal guarantees of political prisoners is the arrest of 22 members of the military, who since March 16, 1988, have been on trial for the crime of military insubordination."

  • "The former members of the Panamanian Defense Forces;
    • Col. Leonidas Macías
    • Majors Nicolás González
    • Cristóbal S. Fundora
    • Luis Carlos Samudio
    • Arístides Baldonedo
    • Fernando Quezada
    • Jaime Benítez
    • José Serrano
    • Captains Humberto Macea
    • Miltón Castillo
    • Francisco Carrera
    • Lieutenants Renato Famiglietti
    • Luis Alberto Gordon
    • Second Lieutenant Gerónimo Guerra
    • Sergeants First Class Fernando Góngora
    • Raúl García Pinzón
    • Sergeants Second Class Luis C. Montenegro
    • Second Lieutenant Alcides Nuñez
    • Corporal Domingo Cerrud
    • Captains Francisco Alvarez
    • Alberto Soto
    • Lieutenant Edgardo Falcón

  • "...have been subjected to physical and psychological torture and have been held for long periods incommunicado and isolated from their families, under subhuman living conditions."

  • "They have had no access to an attorney and have been denied any opportunity to defend themselves."

  • "When the Commission met with the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces, General Manuel Antonio Noriega, and the Staff on March 3, 1989, the situation of these military men was explained at length and a number of letters were even delivered to General Noriega wherein the detainees themselves requested pardon from the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces.

  • "At that meeting the Commission was told that these military men were being tried for a violation of Article 49 of the Organic Law of the Panamanian Defense Forces (Law No. 20 of 1983), which states that: The Commander-in-Chief of the various commands of the Staff, the regional chiefs, the zone and squad chiefs of detachments or squadrons can, without prior trial, order the arrest of their subordinates in order to contain an insubordination, a mutiny, or lack of discipline. The minimum penalty shall be one day and the maximum one year, depending upon the gravity of the offense."

  • At that same meeting, the authorities also assured the Commission that they would study carefully the legal and human situation of each of the detainees. However, they did not mention the degree of penalty that had been imposed, although considering that these men had served just short of one year (March 16, 1989), it was obvious that they had been given the maximum penalty."

  • In its Preliminary Observations to the Commission's report, the Government of Panama stated the following: In its Report, the Commission refers to the cases of the cases of the 22 military personnel who were detained for an attempt coup d’etat on March 16, 1988.

  • With respect to these persons, it is stated that they remain illegally detained and have been denied the right of legal defense.

  • As explained in the Commission's Report, the illegality of the detention of these persons commenced once they had served the maximum administrative sentence imposed under the Organic Law of the Defense Forces. However, it fails to note that the application of this administrative does not been the application of the appropriate provisions of the Criminal Code. Moreover, these individuals committed crimes against the state and this prompted an investigation of the facts by the Attorney General which is still underway.

  • It should be pointed out that the accused do have legal counsel selected by themselves who are charged with their legal defense and they have at their disposal all of the various remedies guaranteed by the Law.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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