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Thursday, September 19 2019 @ 08:46 am EDT

Former Education Minister Belgis Castro Arrested in Panama

Corruption By JOSÉ OTERO for La Prensa - The former Minister of Education, who is still currently the Fourth Undersecretary of the Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD) political party, Belgis Castro, became yesterday the first cabinet member of the former administration of Martin Torrijos to be arrested by the Public Ministry as part of an ongoing corruption investigation. Castro was interrogated yesterday by the Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor, where he was formally charged with embezzlement for his alleged connection with irregularities discovered in the multi million dollar contracts signed to supposedly repair schools - both in Colón and in the Eastern sector of the province of Panamá - which had problems with the installation of fiberglass insulation in their roofs. The prosecutor in charge of the investigations, Kenia Purcell, had already implemented a precautionary measure against Castro to prevent him from leaving the country, a move that was questioned by his defense attorney Carlos Carrillo, claiming there was pressure coming from the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, against his client. Carrillo alleged the attorneys representing the Ministry of Education (MEDUCA) in this process asked for the restriction to be applied against Castro last Tuesday morning, and their request was accepted by the prosecutor Purcell one hour later. Carrillo also said he had reports the two lawyers representing MEDUCA are also officials of the Public Ministry. Castro entered the transitional prison facility of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation in Ancón at 7:30 pm last night. (See Comments)

Editor's Comment: And, here we go. This morning a whole lot of people out there who used to be members of the Martin Torrijos administration are literally shaking in their boots. Here's why. Up until the end of 2008 and early 2009, everyone (and especially the PRD guys) thought Balbina Herrera was a shoe-in to replace Martin Torrijos. They thought they were going to get another five years to do practically whatever they wanted, and on one gave Ricardo Martinelli or anyone else in the opposition a snowball's chance in hell of actually winning the election. But then a funny thing happened on the way to the Pig's Buffet. Juan Carlos Varela came to terms with the polling data and he forged a strategic opposition alliance with Martinelli. They pulled together the rest of the significant opposition parties, resulting in a relative landslide in Panamanian terms - 60% of the vote. But remember, this whole process came about only in the last three months or so of the campaign. In fact I just went back and checked. It became public knowledge Martinelli and Varela agreed to form their opposition alliance on 22 January 2009, just 100 days before the election. Until then most PRD functionaries and key administration officials were working on the assumption Balbina Herrera would eventually win the election, and therefore, they kept on stealing money from government coffers, hand over fist. Then all of a sudden - whoops! Now here we are in August 2009 and the first person with the title of "former Minister" is safely behind bars. And what's his lawyer's primary complaint? That there's "pressure coming from the executive" against his client. Yeah, so friggin' what? Here's the great part - now all of the new people who are working for Ricardo Martinelli have access to the files, documents, checks, paperwork, and contracts, which all converts into "evidence" in the wide ranging embezzlement investigations, most of which are just getting started. The sky's the limit at this point. They're gonna drop like flies. And, I have to admit - I never thought I'd see the day... It's going to take awhile for the rest of the world to fully understand the depth, breadth, and scope of the change that's taking place as we speak in Panama. I know, you're skeptical, and "this is Panama." Let's see how it develops over the long term. Consider this - what Martinelli is doing is, above all, exceptionally popular among the rank and file. Popular, as in "votes." For every one rich scheming corrupt politician (bastard) there are thousands of poor, honest, hard working voters. So, fry one and get 50,000 votes - the math works. Martinelli's strategy has an eye towards a repeat for his opposition alliance in 2014, count on it. The only organization with any possibility of defeating him is the PRD, and if all of them are in jail, then it's a done deal. "Jimmy the Greek For President" - works for me. It's going to be a fun five years. Well for some, anyway. For others, like Belgis Castro, not so much.

INVESTIGACIÓN POR CONTRATOS DE FIBRA DE VIDRIO DE MEDUCA

MP detiene a Belgis Castro

A Castro se le formularon cargos de peculado por su supuesta vinculación con irregularidades en la contratación de empresas.

EX MINISTRO. Belgis Castro fue ministro de Educación durante la administración de Martín Torrijos. LA PRENSA/Noriel Gutiérrez JOSÉ OTERO jotero@prensa.com

El ex ministro de Educación y cuarto subsecretario del opositor Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD), Belgis Castro, se convirtió ayer en el primer integrante del gabinete del ex mandatario Martín Torrijos en ser detenido por el Ministerio Público (MP) por una investigación de corrupción.

Castro fue indagado ayer en la Fiscalía Segunda Anticorrupción, en donde se le formularon cargos de peculado por su supuesta vinculación con las irregularidades encontradas en los contratos millonarios que se suscribieron para la reparación de escuelas –en Colón y el sector este de Panamá– que tenían problemas con la fibra de vidrio de sus techos.

La fiscal encargada, Kenia Purcell, previamente le había impuesto a Castro una medida cautelar de impedimento de salida del país, acción que fue cuestionada por el abogado defensor Carlos Carrillo, aduciendo que se trataba de una presión del Ejecutivo contra su cliente.

Carrillo denunció que los abogados querellantes, los cuales representan en este proceso al Ministerio de Educación (Meduca), solicitaron esta medida el pasado martes en horas de la mañana y que fue acogida por Purcell una hora después.

El abogado también dijo que tenía informes de que los dos abogados del Meduca son funcionarios en licencia del Ministerio Público.

Castro ingresó anoche, a las 7:30 p.m., al sistema transitorio carcelario de la Dirección de Investigación Judicial, en Ancón.

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