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Sunday, November 23 2014 @ 12:02 PM EST

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MEF Files Criminal Complaint For Illegal Dumping

Corruption By Denise Lara for Telemetro - MEF officials say the damage is much larger than originally thought, because the pollution has been seeping in the surrounding areas. A criminal complaint for crimes against the environment and the usurpation of public property was filed by the Administrative Unit of Reverted Property of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, in the case of contamination in Corozal. According to the MEF, the body responsible for administering the State-owned land, the damage could reach $10 million dollars, taking into account the value of the land. It is located on parcels A, C and adjoining easements, covering five hectares. According to a report of UABR, contamination has occurred "continuously".
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Report Puts Attorney General's Position At Risk

Corruption By Juan Manuel Díaz C. for the Panama America - Panama's Attorney General, Ana Matilde Gomez, runs the risk of being removed from office, thanks to a complaint filed against her by former prosecutor Arquímedes Sáez, said former Supreme Court Magistrate Edgardo Molino Mola. According to Mola, Article 2466 of the Judicial Code states that when the crime carries with it possible imprisonment then the civil servant may be removed from office, as is the case with the complaint filed by Sáez. However, Mola said the chances of this happening are remote because it would be necessary to prove Gomez acted acted willfully when ordering the wiretapping. "Unconstitutional acts are not defined as a crime under the Penal Code," he said. However, he said it will be necessary to wait to see what the Prosecutor in Charge of Administration, Nelson Rojas, decides to do. Meanwhile, the former prosecutor Archimedes Sáez explained that after his complaint was admitted by the Prosecutor for Administration, the procedure would be to call Attorney General Gomez in to be interrogated. Yesterday it was learned the Attorney General filed a notice detailing a series of irregularities in the admission of the complaint filed against her. (See Comments)
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Prosecutor Searches ATTT Offices in Taxi Permit Scandal

CorruptionBy JOSÉ OTERO and MÓNICA PALM for La Prensa - Documents relating to the alleged illegal issuance of temporary operating permits for taxis and buses, issued by the management of the Transit Authority and Land Transport (ATTT), were found in the higher office of that entity. This was announced by the Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor, Ramses Barrera, who yesterday conducted an inspection of the ATTT files as part of the criminal investigations being carried out by this case. Now they will analyze those documents to determine whether they met the rules governing the institution or whether they violated the law. Similarly, Barrera noted he would review the minutes of the Board of Directors of the ATTT, to see if there was any discussion of the sale of temporary operating permits. Barrera acted after the former director of the ATTT Sandra Escorcia report on the situation. Yesterday, Escorcia told La Prensa the details of some of those anomalies. The current leaders of the Authority, however, defend the legality of the permits. The managing director of the ATTT, Jorge R. Fabrega said he did not know anything about the inspections being carried out by the prosecutor. "I just received him and put him into contact with the legal staff of the institution," he said. Fabrega reiterated what has already been reported by the Executive: an interim committee of inquiry concluded there were no irregularities. As a result, the deputy director of the ATTT, who had been separated from his position, was reinstated in office. Moreno is a principal member of the National Political Committee of the ruling Democratic Change party.
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Petition for Habeas Corpus Presented On Behalf of Salvador Rodriguez

Corruption La Estrella - Victor Almengor, the lawyer for former Education Minister Salvador Rodríguez, filed a writ of habeas corpus before the Supreme Court, to avoid the possibility of a arrest warrant being issued against his client. According to Rodriguez's attorney, the Public Ministry proceeding to carrying out preventative detentions that are not in accordance with due process, and therefore for them it is necessary to act in anticipation - that at any given time the Public Ministry might order the arrest of the former minister Rodriguez; and even more so when the investigations that are being carried out do not merit preventative detention, taking into account the crimes and their corresponding penalties that apply. The The precedent of the case of former Minister Belgis Castro, also from the education portfolio, has forced them to act with foresight. (See Comments)
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"They Want To Put Me and Torrijos In Prison" - Perez Balladares

Corruption By Arnulfo Barroso W. for the Panama America - Former Panamanian President Ernesto Pérez Balladares said he does not doubt the veracity of the complaint made by Panama's Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez who said she is receiving political pressure to use the Public Ministry for political persecution. Gomez told the National Assembly on Monday that there is a systematic campaign to remove her from office, because she refuses to imprison former presidents without evidence or scientific proof. "I know from different sources there has been direct intervention by the executive (Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli) and even pressure to "arrest former President Perez Balladares or Former President Torrijos," Perez Balladares told Panama America. The Attorney General said she has received political requirements and that she cannot be "naive", so the only thing she can do is to "prepare for what's coming." Meanwhile Perez Balladares said he has reports of "political pressure" from the Executive against the Attorney General and prosecutors "which I will denounce in time." He added "it's obvious there is a wish to push her (Gomez) aside, in order to replace her with someone more 'manageable' for the Executive." Perez Balladares said that nonetheless they want to build a case against him and for this they will use the Financial Analysis Unit (UAF), an agency of the Ministry of the Presidency, "breaking all the laws that govern ..." . The UAF opened an investigation into alleged money laundering against the company Shelf, in which Perez Balladares has signature authority, and forwarded the report to the Attorney General Gomez. Subsequently Panama's Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime, Jose Ayú Prado, said the figure of Perez Balladares does not appear in the report. The former president stressed that in the UAF investigations corporations are involved, of which he is neither a director or a legal representative. He charged that the Government is also using the Department of Revenue, assuming that "we are like some of them who evade taxes." (See Comments)
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Belgis Castro Now In the El Renacer Prison

CorruptionBy Manuel Vega Loo for La Prensa - At 1:30 p.m. this afternoon, former Education Minister Belgis Castro was transferred to the El Renacer prison on order of the Director of the National Penitentiary System, Diomedes Kaa. Castro, who was guarded by four officers of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ), was wearing the same clothes as last night when he was arrested for violating house arrest. Some of Castro's relatives were in the vicinity of the DIJ, but they declined to make any statements to the media. No members of the Partido Revolucionario Democratico were there, even though until just recently Belgis Castro was a member of the party's National Executive Committee (CEN). Carlos Carrillo, Castro's attorney, told La Prensa that in the coming hours he would file a new motion to have his client released. Carrillo said Castro is being investigated for a crime that does not warrant preventative detention. (With details from William Sala).
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Belgis Castro Returned To Prison For Contempt

Corruption By William Sala for La Prensa - Former Education Minister Belgis Castro was returned to jail yesterday and is being held in the transient cell of the Directorate of Judicial Investigations (DIJ), just two days after he left it. The decision to arrest Castro again was taken by Panama's Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor, Ramsés Barrera when the full session of Panama's Supreme Court, after an extraordinary session of the full court held yesterday afternoon, finished its work to resolve the request for habeas corpus filed in Castro's favor. In that session the magistrates of the Supreme Court determined that the prosecutor Barrera could do what he deemed "appropriate and conducive" to the former minister, who remains under investigation for embezzlement. "We must apply the law. Castro should have respected the interim measure granted to him (of house arrest) based on the conditions imposed," said Panama's Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez yesterday afternoon, upon hearing of the Supreme Court's decision. Barrera also said that early this morning he would send a note to the Director of Panama's Penitentiary System, Diomedes Kaa, to instruct him to decide to which detention center the former minister will be sent. Barrera also commented on the apparent good health of the former minister, who participated in public events with no apparent health problems. Castro is accused of embezzlement in the case of the removal of fiberglass insulation from schools. (See Comments)
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Corruption Complaint Filed Against Former Vice President Arosemena

CorruptionLa Critica - Panama's Anti Corruption Czar Fernando Nuñez Fábrega filed a complaint this morning, Monday, 12 October 2009, against the former directors of the Maritime Authority of Panama (AMP), including the former Vice President of Panama Rubén Arosemena, as well as Fernando Solórzano and the legal representative of the company Ocean Pollution Control (OPC). According to the complaint, the company Ocean Pollution Control signed a contract with the Panamanian Maritime Authority which allowed that OPC employees also appeared as governmental employees of the AMP. Panama's Anti Corruption Czar Nuñez Fábrega said the complaint has to do with 24 OPC employees who were also supposedly working simultaneously for the AMP as office workers or nautical inspectors, in what he called "bottle" positions. (See Comments)
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Attorney General Says Castro Challenged the Justice System

Corruption By José González Pinilla for La Prensa - Panama's Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez said former Education Minister Belgis Castro has "challenged" justice by failing to comply with the precautionary measure of house arrest given to him the the Panamanian Supreme Court which allowed him to be released from prison on Saturday. She said Castro faces possible charges of contempt of court because before he was released the was "duly notified" of his house arrest. "I interpret this as a dangerous challenge, because when the justice system believes in a person and it substitutes a more serious solution such as preventative detention for another less serious solution (such as house arrest), then that person should not challenge the authorities," she added. She said the Public Ministry will make the Supreme Court aware of what it considers to be an act of contempt. "Failure to comply with that which has been established by the Supreme Court can end up getting you in even more trouble," she said. Castro, on the day after leaving the Department of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) where he had been held for 45 days, participated in a meeting of the Partido Revolucionario Democratico (PRD). (See Comments)
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Supreme Court Gives Belgis Castro House Arrest

Corruption By Carlos A. Rodríguez for La Critica - Former Education Minister Belgis Castro succeeded in obtaining his freedom yesterday. Panama's Supreme Court decided to replace the measure of preventative detention, which Castro has served in an office of the DIJ for the past 45 days, with an interim measure of house arrest. In a 5 to 4 ruling, Supreme Court Magistrates Alberto Cigarruista, Jerónimo Mejía, Víctor Benavides, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño and Oydén Ortega declared that Castro's arrest was legal, however they granted an injunction in the embezzlement investigation being carried out against Castro with regards to a contract for $136,872 awarded to the company INMECA to remove fiberglass insulation from 10 schools in the Western part of the province of Panama. (Editor's Comment: Basically, this just means that Belgis Castro has to remain on house arrest while the investigation into these alleged crimes continue. If the Supreme Court had not decided in his favor then he would have had to remain in prison while the investigations continue and he awaits trial. Most of the people in Panama don't have either money or lawyers capable of pulling something like this off, and they sit in prison for years awaiting trial. Very often when they finally are granted a trial they are acquitted and set free, some two to three years later. Anyway, now Belgis Castro will have to remain in his house until trial. When Belgis Castro was arrested he was a sitting member of the National Executive Committee (CEN) of the Partido Revolucionario Democratico (PRD) political party. He, along with the rest of the CEN, has since resigned and the PRD is going through a process of "renewal." Ricardo Martinelli continues with his efforts to prosecute all of the members of the former PRD administration of Martin Torrijos, as well as any potential political rivals, such as Ernesto Perez Balladares.)
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Belgis Castro Given House Arrest in Corruption Case

Corruption By Yessika Valdes for the Panama America - The judges of the Supreme Court (CSJ) decided a few minutes ago to grant relief to former Education Minister Belgis Castro. In an extraordinary sesson of the full court, held this Saturday morning at the Supreme Court of Justice, the court decided that the arrest warrant issued by the Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor against the former minister is legal, but they also decided to apply an interim measure - house arrest - instead of making him remain in prison while he awaits trial on the several investigations pending against him for corruption and embezzlement. The order also stipulates that Castro must remain in the country. Belgis Castro's son told RPC radio he was grateful for the decision made by the Supreme Court. "You have to know the truth about the case in which they accuse my father," he added.
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"No More Messing Around and Bribery" - Martinelli

CorruptionTVN Noticias - Panama's President Ricardo Martinelli did not miss the opportunity to lash out at his political opponents in the PRD, saying that they were "stealing from the country, and I'm warning them that the bribery and messing around is over." "As you wish and it will be my pleasure, we will start to uncover all of the scandals, because this country can't take it anymore," said Martinelli who reminded the PRD that those who were members of the past government are now the loudest critics. "They have husked the government and destroyed everything, and they didn't steal the Herons from the Presidential Palace only because they make too much noise," he said. But the president took the opportunity to reiterate that the State can not continue to pay the wages of Coosemupar workers because that would be irresponsible because they are not working. We are unable to produce bananas because that's not our job, the president said. As for alternatives for people who live in this sector of the country, the president announced that they are participating in discussions with representatives from the UAE who are interested in establishing a refinery in Panama. Martinelli said representatives from the UAE would not come to Panama before because bribes were being demanded, and that has since stopped. During the inauguration of the new system which will allow CSS patients to make medical appointments via telephone, Martinelli called upon the Directors of Coosemupar to resign from their posts, because they cannot allow three or four hotheads to continue to benefit from the sacrifices being made by the rest of the humble workers. (See Comments)
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Presidential Jet Was Used For "Shopping Trips"

Corruption By Grisel Bethancourt for La Critica - The Anti-Corruption Secretariat filed several complaints against the former director of the Civil Aviation Authority, Eustacio Fabrega, one of them alleging the presidential aircraft was used for "shopping trips" to Miami. Lawyer Benjamin Herrera, a legal advisor to the Anti Corruption Czar, said Fabrega and other officials took advantage on a Saturday in 2007 when the presidential aircraft had to be sent to Miami for maintenance to travel to the United States and when the plane landed they went shopping. Herrera said the presidential aircraft should be used only for official missions and that at this time when it was due for maintenance, but it was being used for personal matters. Herrera claimed to have evidence, photographs, audit reports, and flight records, all of which were turned over to the Attorney General's Office. For its part, Eustacio Fabrega said on the radio station KW Continente that all flights were part of his work and that he did not know what kind of flights the Anti-Corruption Czar was referring to. The Anti Corruption Czar also denounced the use of 30 airline tickets that were awarded by airlines to be used by the office of the First Lady or the National Government for official missions, but that were used instead by high ranking members of the AAC and their family members to travel to Spain, Miami, and Amsterdam. Another complaint alleged that private aircraft with tail numbers HP-669 and HP-1674 used fuel owned by the government to conduct missions that were supposedly official to Kuna Yala, Bocas del Toro, and Chiriqui.
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Former President Admits To Being A Speed Freak

Corruption By Jose Otero and Santiago Fascetto for La Prensa - "I have never committed an illegal act in my life. I've broken the law sometimes, because I like to drive faster than the law usually allows, but that's the only violation I have made to the law." With these words former Panamanian president Ernesto Perez Balladares tried to distance himself from the investigation into the supposed laundering of funds opened by the Public Ministry, involving Shelf Holding Inc., a company he manages and which constantly received sums of money from the casino company Lucky Games S.A. "To suppose that this public servant could participate in money laundering is not only absurd, it's stupid," Perez Balladares said yesterday during a press conference. Perez Balladares avoided discussing his ties to Shelf Holding Inc., whose bank accounts he controls, and through which moved in recent years several million dollars through the local banking system. He did not say why the company had received money from Lucky Games Ltd. However, he former president accused Panama's president Ricardo Martinelli of "political persecution" and said the government uses the Financial Analysis Unit (UAF) as a "political police". The core of the file of the investigation being conducted by the Special Prosecutor's Office for Organized Crime, by prosecutor José Ayú Prado, is based on a preliminary report from the UAF consisting of over 600 pages. Prado Ayú confirmed yesterday that he is investigating suspected money laundering, and that the case involves the company Shelf Holding Inc. (See Comments)
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Former CSS Director René Luciani Defendes Spending

Corruption Panama America - In a letter dated September 2, 2009, the director of the CSS, René Luciani, said the Foundation does not qualify for this type of contract because they did not have a hospital setting. It also claims they hired the San Fernando Clinic to provide service to 18 dialysis patients with a commitment to increase their capacity to attend to patients starting from 15 June 2009. Luciani also justified the individual contracts and hirings by saying that at the time dialysis patients, led by David Ocálagan, were protesting and exerted pressure on the CSS. (Editor's Comment: René Luciani has now been removed from the CSS, and almost certainly the administration of Ricardo Martinelli will follow their previous pattern of conduct to find irregularities and to forward that information to prosecutors for formal investigation. When he left the CSS there was a formal ceremony and he was handed a plaque and a pat on the back, which drew the ire of the patients and family members of those who are suffering from the effects of DEG poisoning. René Luciani had enough political power within the PRD to hold onto his position even though the CSS was in the center of the storm. Now that the PRD is out of power and René Luciani is out of the CSS, you can probably expect to hear more about him in the future rather than less.)
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Pérez Balladares, Investigated for Money Laundering

Corruption By Santiago Fascetto for La Prensa - The Public Ministry has opened an investigation into alleged money laundering against Shelf Holding Inc., the company managed by former Panamanian president Ernesto Pérez Balladares that consistently received sums of money from the company Lucky Games S.A.. The investigation which began on 14 September 2009 is being handled by José Ayú Prado, the Chief of the Public Ministry's Special Organized Crime Prosecutor's Office. This was confirmed to La Prensa by high ranking judicial sources. The core of the case file is comprised of a preliminary report from the Financial Analysis Unit (UAF), which consists of over 600 pages and covers part of the money trail from bank accounts managed by Lucky Games S.A. to bank accounts with ties to Perez Balladares. The UAF focused on two companies; Shelf Holding Inc. and PTY Adventures Inc. They also analyzed three bank accounts, two that were opened in the Primer Banco del Istmo (now HSBC) and a third in the Banco Panameño de la Vivienda (Banvivienda). The latter account - as was reported in La Prensa - is managed directly by Perez Balladares, who is the authorized signatory on the account along with his personal secretary. From there funds were taken to pay for personal expenses, political donations, employee payroll, and foreign travel for the former president. Some of that money came from Lucky Games, SA, the company which the administration of Ernesto Perez Balladares awarded a concession to operate slot machine facilities in 1996. Rogelio Cruz, the former president's lawyer, said the report by the UAF was not signed by any responsible person and was done "without complying with the requirements of the law." Cruz also called irregular the investigation being conducted by the Public Ministry irregular and warned that "The newspaper La Prensa will commit criminal libel" if it publishes the information. The investigation being conducted by Ayú Prado joins another investigation pending against Perez Balladares for the alleged crimes against public administration. This investigation - which is being conducted by the prosecutor Yolanda Austin - has been left without action. Defense lawyers for Perez Balladares filed two appeals; the first to have the case nullified for supposed "double jeopardy" and another to have the criminal case closed. The fate of the case was left to the judge Georgina Tuñón.
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Protection Lifted from Belgis Castro For Another Corruption Case

Corruption By Grisel Bethancourt for La Critica - Panama's Electoral Tribunal lifted the electoral immunity of former Education Minister Belgis Castro in relation to another corruption case being investigated by the First Anti Corruption Prosecutor for the scandal involving contracts to remove fiberglass insulation from schools, this time in Chiriqui. The damage to the state detected in this case amounts to $249,496.10, according to an audit by the Comptroller. According to the Comptroller the Ministry of Eduction let direct contracts to four companies that were supposed to remove the fiberglass from 15 schools, but the work was never completed.
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Another attempt to stop the CEMIS case

CorruptionBy JOSEPH OTERO for La Prensa - A new action against the reopening of the CEMIS case was presented by counsel for former Democratic Revolutionary Party lawmaker Mateo Castillero, one of the three defendants in this process. Castillero's technical defense filed a motion for annulment yesterday, alleging that the Solicitor General, Ana Matilde Gomez, violated due process by failing to notify the parties involved of a request to reopen the case made in March 2005. On 22 July 2009, the full Supreme Court decided to reopen the file, but the ruling to hand down this decision still has not been published and it remains in the hands of Judge Oyden Ortega. Castillero's lawyer challenged Judge Ortega but six days later, on 29 September 2009, the full court rejected this appeal. Ortega's draft is circulating among the judges, who must define under what conditions the investigation will be reopened and who will conduct that investigation; the Public Ministry, the National Assembly, or the Supreme Court, through a judge acting as a prosecutor.

Editor's Comment: This CEMIS scandal is potentially the most important corruption case in Panama right now because both Martin Torrijos and Balbina Herrera are involved as allegedly having taken bribes, as well as a host of lawmakers. A key strategy for the administration of Ricardo Martinelli is to keep up the pressure on the PRD with a never ending series of corruption litigation - so that in five years there won't be any PRD members left who are clean enough to survive a political campaign. When Panama pulls out of the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) then Martin Torrijos loses all immunity and protection from prosecution - so all bets are off.

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Ombudsman: Police Major Committed Four Fouls

Corruption By Denise Lara for Telemetro Reporta - The Ombudsman, Ricardo Vargas, spoke today about the investigations into a case of apparent abuse by a Major of the National Police who attacked two fuel station attendants. Vargas criticized the position of Director of the National Police, Gustavo Perez, who expressed his support for the office without having waited for the results of an internal investigation. The interview follows:

Editor's Comment: This incident, which was caught on video tape, is growing in importance. On Friday there was a hearing in the office of the local corregiduria which basically resulted in the issuance of a protection order, and nothing more. According to Vargas the National Police now have to conduct an internal investigation, and his office will request those results. They will also be conducting an inspection in the office of the corregiduria to ensure they followed proper procedures in the hearing because the fuel station attendants are saying they were not allowed to present their side of the story. You really don't need to know much - just watch the videotape and it's obvious this was a cop, in uniform and on duty and armed, who thought it was alright for him to reach out and grab people by the throat and then punch them in the face. If the Director of the National Police does not come down harshly on this guy, there will be calls for his head.

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Anticorruption Czar Denounces Abnormalities In Property Acquisition

Corruption TVN Noticias - Panama's anti corruption czar filed a complaint against the managing director of the Office of Social Security, Eduardo Carrasquilla. According to Fernando Nunez Fabrega, Carrasquilla used his position when he served as the Director of Income of the Office of Social Security to obtain goods illegally, which he says cannot be justified. Involved are a farm in Boquete, a house in Clayton, another in Albrook, and a car. According to the complaint, Carrasquilla used his sister in law Eloisa Serrano Gutierrez as an intermediary to hide the true owner of property located in Clayton. The denounced irregularities also involve Victor Manuel Leiva and Javier Quiros, who served as the judge executor. Fabrega said his complaints would be presented to the Public Ministry.
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Former Education Minister Salvador Rodriguez Could Be Arrested At Any Time

Corruption By Juan Manuel Díaz C. for the Panama America - Panama's Supreme Court ruled the prophylactic request of habeas corpus filed on behalf of former Education Minister Salvador Rodriguez to prevent his arrest was "not viable", leaving open the possibility the Third Anti Corruption Prosecutor could order his arrest in the ongoing scandal involving contracts for the removal of fiberglass insulation from schools. The Supreme Court based their decision on the fact that the Office of the Third Anti Corruption Prosecutor had not ordered the arrest of Rodriguez, and therefore the request was "not viable." In their decision the justices explained that national jurisprudence holds that the real or certain threat against the accused is constituted by the written order imposing preventative detention, which must also be pending execution. Rodriguez's attorney, Victor Almengor, said the Court's decision leaves the door open for the Third Anti-Corruption Prosecutor to order the arrest of the former minister. In that sense, the former Senior Prosecutor Cristóbal Arboleda thinks the prosecutor could issue an arrest warrant against the accused at any stage of the investigation, and that this could happen in the case of Rodriguez.

Castro Remains in Prison: On the other hand, the Supreme Court has has not reached an agreement on the legality of the arrest order issued against the other former Minister of Education, Belgis Castro, after five of the court's nine judges opposed the draft decision presented by Judge Victor Benavides. Benavides's draft would have declared the arrest legal, but also would have granted house arrest against Belgis Castro. However, during the discussion period of the draft, five justices expressed objections and no agreement was reached, and they decided that the first observer, Judge Jerónimo Mejía, would take over the case. Now, Mejia will prepare a new draft decision and send it to the rest of his colleagues, who will have a period of five days for some form of observation. If there are any comments produced, the draft ruling must then be submitted for consideration by the Full Court. Meanwhile, Castro's lawyer, Carlos Carrillo, said it was "disturbing" that the Supreme Court is taking so long to decide a request that should have been addressed urgently. Carrillo said he hoped the judges would decide this appeal in the coming days because his client is still suffering from ill health.

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Bosco Slips on Another Banana Peel

Corruption By Grisel Bethancourt and Zelideth Cortez for La Critica - The Sixth Court may order the separation and arrest of the Chief of the Municipal Police, Edgardo Reeder Gonzalez, who was sentenced of a drug trafficking case dating to March 1995 which resulted in the seizure of 273 kilos of cocaine that were being shipped to Europe through the cargo terminal of the Tocumen International Airport. Yesterday, the Secretary General of the Panama City Hall, Arsenio Fernandez, reported Reeder's separation from this position, who on Tuesday had been championed by Mayor Bosco Vallarino in a meeting of the City Council, where he claimed he had been unjustly imprisoned for four years while he participated in a covert operation. However, Reed was sentenced to 9 years and 8 months in prison on 11 July 2000, in an investigation into a cell of the Cali Cartel that was operating here in Panama. The unanimous decision by judges Hipólito Gill Suazo, Elvia Batista and Luis Mario Carrasco overturned the acquittal handed down in the lower Sixth Court on 18 March 1998. In the investigation Reeder, who was at that time a member of the PTJ, could not justify the purchase of a property for $48,000 dollars, some money that was in bank accounts, and a suitcase that was found containing $45,000 dollars in cash. (more)
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Panama's Anti Corruption Czar Promises Another "Big Fish" Will Fall

Corruption Panama America - Without providing any additional details, the Executive Secretary of the National Council of Transparency against Corruption, Fernando Núñez Fábrega, told on the Telemetro Reporta news program he would release details of a new case involving alleged irregularities in the Office of Social Security on Friday. Fabrega called the person who apparently committed these acts of corruption within that institution a "big fish." Yesterday Fábrega together with Panama City Mayor Bosco Vallarino went to the Public Ministry to file a complaint against a presiding judge responsible for garbage collection fees, who was apparently making people pay for trash collection, but the money never arrived to the coffers of the municipal government.
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Prosecutor Dismisses Bobby Velasquez - David Murcia Case

Corruption By Grisel Bethancourt for La Critica - Panama's Organized Crime Prosecutor recommended the investigation into the alleged multi million dollar campaign donation supposedly made to PRD politician Roberto "Bobby" Velasquez by ponzi scheme kingpin David Murcia be dismissed. David Murcia Guzman has been convicted in Colombia and is being investigated in Panama for money laundering. Prosecutor José Ayú Prado determined through this investigation there was no elements or evidence to substantiate the crime. He said the dismissal was impersonal, because no one was charged in the investigation, and there were no indictments issued. Ayú Prado said he expects the Judge of the Ninth Criminal Circuit Court, where he filed his opinion, will review the case and the judge will determine whether or not he shares the opinion of the prosecutor. "The file was forwarded as complete as possible, within the period of time allowed to us under the law; There were approximately 13 files that were sent to the court," he said. David Murcia Guzmán told the media he delivered a suitcase containing $3 million dollars to the Mayoral campaign of Bobby Velasquez in a meeting held in November 2009 at the Hotel Sheraton. The complaint in this case was filed by Panameñista Luis Eduardo Camacho. Panamanian prosecutors tried on two occasions to take a sworn statement from David Murcia in the La Picota prison in Bogota, but he refused to cooperate. (See Comments)
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Health Ministry Questioned for Direct Contracts

Corruption By ISIDRO RODRIGUEZ for La Estrella - Direct purchase contract agreements have become the preferred method of the current government. The Ministry of Health has not escaped this "fever" and they have already approved direct contracts worth more than $4.7 million dollars. In the first 84 days of this administration Health Minister Franklin Vergara approved two contracts directly. The first went to a company called Keydex Panama, SA, for about $1.7 million dollars for the purchase of 20 type II ambulances. The second contract is for $3.67 million that went to the companies Constructora Real S.A and Design Build & Engineering Panama Inc, for the construction of a Primary Health Care Center in the Garzas de Pacora. Both companies were only formed months ago. Fernando Cebamanos, a leader of Comenenal, considers it "serious" to give a contract to build health center to a company that does not have experience. But Health Minister Franklin Vergara said "it's the quickest way to respond."
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New Record Set - 275 Corrpution Complaints Filed Against Torrijos Administration

Corruption La Estrella - There have now been 275 complaints and allegations of corruption filed by more than forty government agencies and state institutions against the actions taken during the administration of Martin Torrijos. The files speak of cases which include damage to the state worth millions of dollars. Some call this a witch hunt being perpetrated against the PRD by Ricardo Martinelli, however the investigations continue and the citizens expect justice to be done and that those who are found to be guilty pay the consequences.
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Police Major Punches Gas Station Attendant In The Face, Caught On Video

Corruption By Marggie Trejos for El Siglo - A major in the Panamanian National Police, who was both on duty and carrying his issue service weapon, arrived in a patrol car to the Texaco gas station in Las Américas of Las Mañanitas, and punched a service station attendant in the head. A security camera captured the assault, which was transmitted by Telemetro (you can see the video at www.elsiglo.com.) The video shows how Major Ricardo Rodriguez grabs the two gas station attendants by the collar, smacks one on the chest, exchanges some words with them, and then punches the other one in the face. All of this occurred on the morning of Wednesday, 9 September 2009. El Siglo attempted to talk to Major Rodriguez but those attempts were unsuccessful because he does not answer his cell phone. Until last week Major Rodriguez was assigned to the police station in Alcalde Díaz, but now he has been transferred to Penonomé in the province of Coclé. The person who did speak to El Siglo was his wife, Veronica Encina, who said yesterday the Major hit the gas station attendants because a few hours earlier she was taking her daughter to school, but stopped on the way at that gas station, where these same attendants treated her badly and they said an obscenity to her 15 year old daughter. According to Veronica, at about 6:00 am that day, she was taking her daughter to school but on the way she stopped at the gas station. She said it was shift change at the time, so therefore she had to wait 45 minutes to be attended. "I got upset because they had attended some other customers who arrived after I did," said Veronica, who is Chilean. She also said she called this to the attention of the gas station attendants, and she said that when it was her turn to be served, she gave her daughter the money to pay for the gas. According to Veronica, the dispatchers allegedly said an obscene word to her daughter who burst into tears. Supposedly, at that time she was speaking by cell phone to her husband and he heard everything. That, she said, is why her husband went to the gas station and hit the gas station attendants. Those who were attacked did not strike back. Remember, Major Rodriguez was armed. But the other dispatchers who were working there said Luis and Eugenio never said anything obscene to either the girl or his wife. "She was all full of rage because we were not able to respond quickly, because we were in a shift change," said the dispatcher who yesterday gave his version of events, but who asked that his name not be published, out of fear that Major Rodriguez will go there to punch him as well. Besides the aggression, Major Ricardo Rodriguez filed a complaint against the gas station attendants before the Corregiduría t the Las Mananitas, and this hearing is set for next Friday at 10:00 am. Furthermore, the wife of Major Rodriguez said he is not sorry for what happened. "He told me that if he had to do it again, he would," said Veronica.
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Chito Montenegro Files Complaint Against Judge

Corruption Panama America - The Secretary General of the Anti-Corruption Front, Enrique "Chito" Montenegro, presented Tuesday before the National Assembly a criminal complaint against Judge Jerónimo Mejía, for allegedly trafficking in influence. Montenegro says his complaint included evidence allegedly showing how Judge Mejia trafficked influences in the cases of Nelson Urrego, Alexander Ventura Nogueira, Grupo Motta, Samuel Lewis Navarro, René Luciani, Juan Carlos Tapia , and CEMIS, among others. According to Montenegro, Mejia's law firm continues to handle cases, through his wife and legal representative, and a group of lawyers who all have left the Public Ministry either as former prosecutors or superior prosecutors. "The Credentials Committee of the National Assembly should review this case and call Mejía to trial," said Montenegro, who reiterated that the evidence is overwhelming.
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Decision Expected Thursday in Corruption Case

Corruption TVN Noticias - Judge Victor Benavides said this Thursday we will know the fate of the former Education Minister Begis Castro when the full Supreme Court decides on the request of Habeas Corpus presented by his defense lawyers to have his arrest and subsequent detention declared illegal. Benavides said most of the judges will participate in the decision, and sources in the court indicate the draft decision could declare Castro's arrest to be legal, but to order a different interim measure, rather than detention. The Former Minister of Education has been detained for weeks on order of the Second Anti Corruption prosecutor who has pressed charges against him for embezzlement and ordered his arrest. Castro was hospitalized for seven days at the Social Security hospital, where doctors performed various examinations to determine his health condition with regards to hypertension and diabetes presented by the former Minister. All of this controversy and scandal surrounding the former Minister is the product of contracts let directly to companies to supposedly removed fiberglass insulation from schools in the eastern part of the Province of Panama and in Colon, but in some of these schools fiberglass never even existed.
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Government Denies Irregularity in Taxi Permit Scandal

CorruptionBy SHELMAR VÁSQUEZ SWEEN for La Prensa - It took the Executive Committee thirty six hours to determine that the 294 temporary operating permits for taxis, whose issuance had been described as irregular last Tuesday by the former director of the Ground Transit and Transportation Authority, Sandra Escorcia, to be in order. Presidential spokeswoman Judy Meana said all of the permissions were signed by the then Deputy Director of the ATTT, Roberto Moreno, arguing that he was temporarily placed in charge of this entity from 27 to 29 July. All of the permits were approved on 27 July, the first day Moreno took over the ATTT. After reporting the incident, Escorcia held a meeting with the Ministers of the Presidency and Government and Justice, during which she mentioned the existence of an audio recording proving how the permits were issued in an irregular manner.On the recording it was discovered how the transactions were accomplished in order to obtain the permits in exchange for a bribe ranging between $4,000 to $5,000 dollars. When asked about the issue, Escorcia said she has not had contact with the authorities. (See Comments)
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