Court Acquits ANATI's Anabelle Villamonte In Paitilla Land Titling Case
Tuesday, September 25 2012 @ 12:18 pm EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
According to the decision, reported yesterday through Edict 868, Villamonte was acquitted of charges of embezzlement, while Segura and Ferreira were acquitted of charges of falsifying documents. The investigation of this process began after a complaint filed on 12 August 2011 by the current governor of the province of Panama, Mayín Correa, in which the parcel of land in question (ocean front land fill) belongs to the Municipality of Panama and, therefore, could not be transferred.
Guillermina McDonald, Villamonte's lawyer, said the court decided according to law, because it was never proven that a crime was committed.
During the preliminary hearing of the case, held in May, the Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor, Lizzette Chevalier, asked the court to bring Villamonte, Segura, and Ferreira to trial. In that hearing Chevalier said she had been able to establish the existence of serious irregularities in the transfer process for the parcel of land in Paitilla.
Villamonte was also exonerated by the same court in the process against her for the titling, supposedly irregular, of land in Juan Hombrón.
We (La Prensa) consulted the Press Secretary of the Public Ministry to see if the Prosecutor Chevalier would appeal the decision, and were told she had not yet been officially notified of the court's decision.
Last week, work began on the construction of a park on the parcel of land in question in Paitilla. (Prensa)
Editor's Comment: Let me point out a couple of things. First of all, notice that the original judge who was responsible for the Third Criminal Court - Adolfo Mejía - was given a big, fat, juicy promotion to a much more important seat on the Second Superior Tribunal, after he signed the decision in the Juan Hombrón case, which also absolved Anabelle Villamonte of all charges, back in June 2012.
So, there's the timeline. Anabelle Villamonte goes to trial before the Third Criminal Court, and she is found innocent of all charges - it's dropped. Then President Ricardo Martinelli signed an Executive Order, returning those lands in Juan Hombrón back to the State. Just as in the Paitilla case, those lands were returned to government ownership. Then Jimmy Papadimitriu resigned. Then the Judge who handed down that decision is promoted to the Second Superior Tribunal - apparently as a reward for following orders. It has always seemed like the "deal" was for Jimmy Papadimitriu to take the responsibility in the Juan Hombrón case, and the lower level people who were simply doing his bidding would be absolved, set free, and not face any serious prison time. Regardless of what the evidence says. At this level where the justice system and politics mix in Panama, this is how the game is played.
So, who is held responsible? Where's the crime? Where's the punishment? The only "down side" are the negative headlines in the press, and Jimmy Papadimitriu had to resign. That's it?
Fast forward to the charges pending against Anabelle Villamonte in the case involving the landfill in Paitilla. Just as in the Juan Hombrón case, President Ricardo Martinelli issued an Executive Order to return those lands to State ownership. Jimmy Papadimitriu resigned. And the new judge, who replaced Adolfo Mejía, drops all charges six days after she sat down in the chair. In this case, rather than a promotion if you do the right thing as requested, it's much more likely she got the job because she agreed to drop those charges as soon as she walked in the door. So welcome aboard, and job number one is to acquit Anabelle Villamonte. Wow. The blatant appearance of corruption is lost on absolutely no one. Everyone is in agreement. And, all they can say is "wow" and "no surprise there."
But there's a problem with this strategy. What judge are they going to promote or hire in the Punta Chame case? What about the several cases that will be coming out of Bocas del Toro. Same people involved - ANATI, Anabelle Villamonte, the Director of the ANATI Franklin Oduber, Jimmy Papadimitriu - but, he can't resign again, that bullet has been spent. There are many, many, many more cases of corruption and blatant abuse of power and authority and office by this exact same group of people, and it seems to me like they are going to quickly run out of ways to paper their ass.
There's really no surprise here, with this most recent acquittal of Anabelle Villamonte. I don't understand how they can say the case was handled according to the law. If no laws were broken, then why did President Ricardo Martinelli feel the need to intervene and take those lands back, and return them to State ownership? If nothing "irregular" occurred, then why did Jimmy Papadimitriu resign on the same day that Martinelli issued the Executive Order for the land in Juan Hombrón? Was it just a coincidence that the judge who acquitted Anabelle Villamonte was quickly promoted to a much more important position? And most importantly, how do they plan to protect themselves from the shit-blizzard that's coming, on the horizon - identical Modus Operandi, same people, same names - only the victims are different. They are using this newly created ANATI outfit to STEAL land worth millions if not billions of dollars, all over the country. And judging by the headline today, they apparently think they are going to be able to get away with it, and do whatever they want with the ANATI.
Here's my prediction. This whole ANATI thing is going to be come the the CD's albatross. It's going to drag them down going into the 2014 elections, like a cancer. And like any cancer, the sooner you cut it out and kill it, the better the prognosis for the patient. (Important side note - killing the journalists won't help, it's too late for that, bad plan...) If Ricardo Martinelli fails to act - and soon - to clean up this ANATI shit storm, then their prospects to remain in power after the 2014 election diminish by the day. Sooner or later the PRD is going to wake up to the virtual corruption buffet set before them with all of these ANATI land scandals, and they will almost certainly use those to make as much political hay as possible, between now and May 2014.
It's not too late - Martinelli could ORDER a full blown investigation, headed by a combination of AUDITORS from the Office of the Comptroller of the Republic, backed up by the PROSECUTORS of the Public Ministry. Martinelli could order a FREEZE on all land titles, because the ANATI is so completely screwed up, it's dangerous. And, he has the power to REVERSE those illegal decisions, just as he has already done in the Paitilla and Juan Hombrón cases. If he fails to do these things, then the PRD will probably win in 2014. Amazingly enough, it seems like the CD found a way to screw up a wet dream. My analysis of the situation, for what it's worth. Let's see how it all plays out over the coming weeks and months. Well, days. And, these issues are not going to be decided in Panama City. They are going to be decided by international investors, and by headlines being made in New York and Washington. That sound you hear is not an approaching train, but rather a tornado. Any minute now...