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Saturday, August 30 2014 @ 12:30 PM EDT

CEMIS Prosecutor Asks Supreme Court To Bring Martin Torrijos To Trial

CorruptionAbel Zamorano, the Supreme Court judge who is acting as the Investigating Prosecutor in the Supreme Court, responsible for investigating the case of the alleged payment of bribes to lawmakers in 2001 for the approval of the CEMIS contract, requested the full body of the Supreme Court to bring the former president Martin Torrijos to trial, and to dismiss all charges against the National Assembly Deputy Carlos Afu.

In his "prosecutor's opinion" in this process, to which this newspaper (La Prensa) had access, Zamorano asked the Supreme Court to open criminal proceedings against Torrijos for the alleged commission of the crime of corruption of public servants. In the document, which has 164 pages, dated 10 July 2012, and sent to Efren Tello who is the judge responsible for the case, Zamorano said there is sufficient evidence - in the form of witness statements as well as audiovisual evidence - to demonstrate it was Torrijos, as the General Secretary of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), who on 29 December 2001 gave the order to distribute among the legislators of that political party the sum of $200,000 dollars in order to pass the CEMIS contract.

Among other testimony, Zamorano highlighted the statements of the protected witnesses "Gabriel" and "Juriel", whose statements he took on 17 August 2010. It also talks about the case between the former President Ernesto Perez Balladares, the former Minister Roosevelt Thayer, and the former legislator Manuel De La Hoz, that was recorded and incorporated into the record.

About Afu, Zamorano said although he received the money knowing it was a bribe, he was able to prove his purpose was to denounce the crime.

Zamorano asked the Supreme Court to apply a preventative measure to Torrijos, to keep him close to the process. La Prensa sought to obtain a response from the defense lawyers of the former president, but they did not respond. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Abel Zamorano was appointed to the Supreme Court by Ricardo Martinelli on 15 January 2010. He is the alternate magistrate for the President of the Supreme Court, Alejandro Moncada Luna. The Supreme Court is responsible for investigating the CEMIS case, because the former president Martin Torrijos has a degree of immunity from prosecution afforded to him because of his status as a former president. However, the events in question occurred in 2001 - before Torrijos was elected president. Abel Zamorano is the "judge prosecutor" because he is a sitting judge on the Supreme Court, and in this case he is acting as the prosecutor - so it is his job to investigate, call witnesses, develop testimony and evidence, and eventually bring the case before the Supreme Court.

The issuance of the "prosecutor's opinion" is the next step in the process. Now the entire case will go before the full body of the Supreme Court, and they will decide whether or not to call Martin Torrijos to trial. The Supreme Court can also apply what are known as "preventative measures" to keep Torrijos from fleeing the country to avoid prosecution. There are any number of things they can do - like take his passport, make him report every 15 days, stuff like that. If they want to, they can also order house arrest, or even place him under arrest.

So anyway, the CEMIS case is moving along, right on schedule. The Cambio Democratico guys are playing this like a violin. Their entire strategy is focused on having the CEMIS case dominating the headlines as the general elections of 2014 get closer. Their goal is to use this case to remind everyone that the PRD is a corrupt political party, and they hope that perception will splash over onto whoever ends up being the PRD's presidential candidate. So, they are going to slow-roast the CEMIS case on an open fire like a pig on a spit. This story was the headline in La Prensa this morning.

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