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Saturday, February 23 2019 @ 05:32 AM UTC

The President Controls Panama's Judiciary (As Usual)

Law & LawyersThe independence of the judiciary is once again in jeopardy.

Alexis Ballesteros, who resigned yesterday from his position as the judge of the Fourth Criminal Circuit of Panama, said he was pressured and intimidated by his superiors to issue decisions favoring those close to President Ricardo Martinelli.

In an interview granted to La Prensa, Ballesteros said due to orders from judges Wilfredo Sáenz, Secundino Mendieta, Alejandro Moncada Luna and the President of the Supreme Court José Ayú Prado, he was instructed to issue decisions in criminal cases he handled both as the judge of both the Fourth and Eleventh Criminal Courts.

He said his contact between the four Supreme Court judges was the Administrator of the Tourism Authority Solomon Shamah, who in turn takes his orders directly from Martinelli.

As recently as yesterday, Ballesteros said he was repeatedly summoned to the offices of Moncada Luna, Saenz and Mendieta, and in these meetings they told him how he should decide in ongoing three criminal cases; that of Balbina Herrera, a case involving a family member related to Gabriel Btesh, and the case of the company Transcaribe Trading for blocking the entrance to the offices of La Prensa.

For the first two cases he was taken to the office of Moncada Luna when he was the President of the Supreme Court.

Ayu Prado, Moncada Luna, Saenz, and Mendieta were all appointed to the Supreme Court as magistrates or alternates by President Martinelli. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Once again, there is no judicial security in Panama. Politicians have completely taken over the judiciary. It doesn't matter what the evidence says. If the political power and connections go against you, then you will lose your case. This is not news, but rather simply further confirmation of a known and well established fact.

One more thing. This isn't new, and Martinelli is not the first to do this. La Prensa and the Panameńistas would do well to review the history of the Supreme Court with regards to the judges appointed by their very own Mireya Moscoso and their voting records, before they throw too many stones at Martinelli and the CD.

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