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Sunday, August 25 2019 @ 10:46 pm EDT

Corruption Trial Against Former Minister of Education Suspended

CorruptionThe Sixteenth Criminal Court suspended the trial of the former Minister of Education Belgis Castro and nine others indicted for embezzlement of more than $153,000, after the granting in an allegedly irregular manner of contracts to remove fiberglass from ten schools in Panama. The process was scheduled for Wednesday and will last until Friday, September 28. Courthouse sources confirmed the trial was suspended shortly after 10:00 am today, because one of the defense lawyers filed an excuse, because he had another hearing.

The trial was scheduled to begin at 9:00 am, but Judge Enrique Perez entered the audience hall of the Maritime Court of Balboa and one hour later, and after the roll call was taken of the accused and their lawyers, they noticed the absence of the defense lawyer for Glenis Garcia, one of the accused. Although the court appointed a public defender to replace the absent lawyer (Adolfo Pitti), the defendant asked the judge to be allowed to keep her lawyer, the judge agreed, and the process was suspended. Then it emerged that Pitti presented an excuse before the clerk's office, because he had a hearing today in the province of Veraguas.

Castro, who was Minister of Education from 2007 to 2008 in the government of President Martin Torrijos, arrived around 8:30 am, before the scheduled time to start, without being seen by the media.

Besides Castro and Garcia, the others who are accused in this case are Vidal Jaén, Sixto Rosales, Rodolfo Cabrera, Juan Zerna, César Cordero, Juan Castañedas, Roberto Ariza and Marcos Barrios. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: This whole "fiberglass removal" scandal was a big deal that started about four years ago. First, these guys in the Ministry of Education would get students and parents at the schools to protest over the supposed presence of "fiberglass contamination" in the schools. Then, they went to the National Assembly to ask for more money, in order to clean it up. Then, they (allegedly) handed out sweetheart cleanup contracts with kickbacks, in order to steal the money. And now they are about to go to court. Finally.

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