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Sunday, August 25 2019 @ 09:45 pm EDT

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Why Is It Called A "Ley Zanahoria" (Carrot Law)?

Law & Lawyers By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The Panamanian government and National Assembly is considering adopting a new law that would further restrict the times and operating hours for bars and nightclubs. Right now practically any bar or club can stay open as long as they want, and the bars tend to close when the clients are toasted and they "can't take any more." One of the most dangerous times to drive in Panama is at dawn on Sunday morning, when the drunks are heading home from the bars after a hard night of partying. The government of Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli has proposed a new law that would limit the operating hours for bars and nightclubs, forcing them to close at 2:00 am. The Panamanian press is calling this a "ley zanahoria" (carrot law). Someone recently asked where that term comes from.

Based on "Healthier" and "Schedule" The first law passed with this name was in Colombia in 1995. The term "zanahoria" is basically a slang term used in Colombia for the kinds of people who live a healthy lifestyle. In Spanish a healthy person is said to be "sano" (masculine) or "sana" (feminine). Back in 1995 in Colombian when their new law was being debated, it was argued that the earlier closing hours would be healthier or more "sana". In questions of time or scheduling, a schedule is an "horario". Therefore, when you put the two together to come up with "healthier schedule" you get "sana" + "horario" - which just sort of morphed into the slang term - "zanahoria". And, it's a great trivial question because most Panamanians know how to use the term and they know what it means, but they don't know why or where it came from. And besides, why stay out all night getting drunk when you could be at home, playing with carrots and improving your eyesight... (grin)

Copyright 2009 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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The "Jail House Act" Is Unconstitutional - Ana Matilde Gomez

Law & Lawyers"The Constitution must be respected, because the freedoms of the citizens are not to be penalized," said former Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez yesterday about the so called "Jail House Act." Gomez said it was a setback to penalize with up to two years in prison any person who would close a street in protest. "Under the Constitution, in case of road closures the protesters must tell the authorities 24 hours in advance in order to maintain order, but at no point does it talk about putting anyone in jail," said Gomez. She said to protect democracy it is not necessary to penalize the freedoms of the citizens.

Meanwhile, former PRD presidential candidate Balbina Herrera said people are afraid to oppose the legislation being implemented for fear of reprisals. "One example is that in surveys people answer the opposite of what they are actually thinking - which is nothing more than self-censorship," said Balbina. She said she does not understand president Ricardo Martinelli, who - according to her - is acting like a leader of the left or center left, when initially he said he was of the right.

Genaro Lopez, the Secretary General of the Single National Union of Workers in the Construction Industry and Allied Workers (SUNTRACS) reiterated this week they would submit a claim of unconstitutionality against the controversial law. According to him this Law 14 was written to arrest and detain the workers, who use this mechanism to enforce their rights. Juan Carlos Arosemena, a PRD lawmaker, said he would also file suit against this law.

For his part, Roberto Quijano, the Vice Minister of Internal Trade, responded to the criticism and said the government does not intend to quell any demonstration, but people should understand they can not paralyze the country as the SUNTRACS wanted to do by threatening a strike in March of this year.

Former Supreme Court judge Edgardo Mulino Mola also gave his opinion and said on the program "Semana" broadcast by TVN that the authorities are obligated to permit the exercise of constitutional rights. Mulino Mola said the law is complex and could be used for repression, and that, he says, is serious. Law 14 of April 13, 2010, dubbed the "Jail House Act" allows for six months to two years imprisonment for those who block traffic or use violence in protests, was published in the Offical Gazette on 13 April 2010, the same day it was signed into law by President Ricardo Martinelli. (El Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Did you catch the fact that Balbina Herrera is still living in a fantasy land, saying that people really believe one thing but they answer something else in the polls? She apparently still hasn't recovered from the butt-kicking she got last year in the election. Ricardo Martinelli now has an 80% approval rating, which is remarkable considering that 35% of the Panamanian population considers themselves to be dyed in the wool PRD. She's also confused over the whole left-center-right thing, because Ricardo Martinelli will shift from one area of the spectrum to the other at different times during the day, depending on the issue to be decided. He tends toward free trade and what's right for business, however as a smart politician he also does what's right for the most people in any situation, so therefore many times his stances are "populist" which she thinks of as "left." Whatever, she's hopelessly outclassed, out of her league, and confused. I have no idea why the press continues to ask her opinion about stuff. We know the SUNTRACS doesn't like this new law, and who cares? He's right, it was passed to shut them down, and so what? They have every right in the world to stand on the side of the road, hold up signs, chant and yell, or whatever. Just so long as they don't get violent, throw rocks, or block traffic. Gomez and Mulino are also correct in that Law 14 could open up a window for repression, and the Supreme Court will eventually decide if it's constitutional or not. You know, the Supreme Court that's controlled by Ricardo Martinelli? Anybody want to lay a bet on how that one will turn out?

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"Jail Time For Protesters" Law Has Been Signed and Published - Now In Effect

Law & LawyersThe law that dictates action on criminal records, reforms the electoral code and adds an article to the Penal Code, was published in the Official Gazette dated April 13, which means it is now the law of the land. Law 14 of April 13, 2010, was published in the Official Gazette the same day it was signed by president Ricardo Martinelli. The first two articles of the new law establish that for purposes of employment, anyone can have access to criminal records, however that information cannot be passed to third parties. The new law also reforms Article 362 and paragraph 3 of Article 369 of the Electoral Code on the subject of recalls for deputies and representatives. The revocation must be approved unanimously by the National Board (of the political party) and by two-thirds of a Congress or National Convention of the party and by two thirds of the voters in the district in question. The new law also adds to the Penal Code an article which provides for six months to two years in jail for anyone who abuses their right to assemble by demonstrating, through the use of violence, impedes, blocks, or otherwise prohibits the free passage of vehicles on public roads and those who cause damage to public or private property. (TVN Noticias)

Editor's Comment: Damn. That was fast. Pass, sign, publish. I bet that was a record. Anyway, the new law is now the law of the land. Anyone who blocks a road and tosses rocks at the police can be arrested and sentenced to up to two years in prison. The Suntracs guys were on television this morning, talking smack. It's easy to talk a good game on television. Now let's see just how rowdy those same guys are the next time they want to go tossing rocks on Calle 50 or wherever. This law tosses a big, fat bucket of cold water on the whole closing the streets thing. Good. It's been abused for a long, long time. I'm not really all that concerned over the implications of the restrictions on free speech or assembly. Basically, if the demonstrations get too big and if there are literally hundreds of thousands of protesters, then that means it's truly a popular uprising and in short - there will be too many to arrest. However a handful of rowdy construction workers who are getting paid by Hugo Chavez to toss stones just don't make the same standard. The people in the cars outnumber the whack-jobs with rocks. Lock 'em up...

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New Law Would Restrict Hours for Bars and Pubs

Law & LawyersVery soon, pubs, bars and nightclubs in Panama might be forced to close their doors earlier after it was announced in the National Assembly the possibility that the government would introduce a proposal to regulate closing time. The Minister of Government and Justice Jose Raul Mulino made the announcement during a presentation to the National Assembly. Mulino not specify when the proposal will be presented, but said the law would seek to establish schedules for pubs and bars to counteract the increase in crime. (Telemetro)
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Martinelli Will Sign New Law On Jail Time for Protesters

Law & LawyersPresident Ricardo Martinelli announced today he would sign Law 110 which includes penalties from 6 months to 2 years in prison for blocking streets as part of a violent protest. The new law also amends the Electoral Code regarding recalls of politicians and reinstates the use of the criminal record. The president announced he would endorse the law as it was passed by the National Assembly last night, despite the fact that last week he said he thought two years in prison for someone who blocks a street as part of a protest was too much. President Martinelli said people can still protest on the sidewalks, because they must respect the rights of others. (TVN Noticias)
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National Assembly Passes "Jail for Protesters" Law

Law & LawyersLast night just before midnight, and after six hours of intense debate led mostly by the opposition lawmakers from the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), the National Assembly passed a new law to allow public access to police criminal records, in a 40-22 vote. This controversial bill also included two other hotly contested attachments. The first one makes it much more complicated - to the point of impossibility - for a political party to "recall" someone who was elected while a member of that party but who later switches to another political party. The other extremely controversial attachment allows judges to sentence anyone who blocks or closes a street in protest to up to two years in prison. There were two unsuccessful attempts to have the entire bill returned to the second debate; the first by Panameñista lawmaker Osman Gómez and the second by PRD lawmaker Cipriano Adames.

In contrast to the angry participation by almost all of the PRD lawmakers in the debate, only a handful of lawmakers from Ricardo Martinelli's Cambio Democratico political party participated or spoke. Among them, the lawmakers who put forth the initiative regarding the new restrictions being placed on the revoking of the mandate by the political parties Hernan Delgado, and Panameñista lawmakers José I. Blandón and Alcibiades Vásquez.

The President of the National Assembly José Luis Varela justified the passage of the controversial law and attachments based on the grounds that a similar procedure was performed during the past administration. Finally, the PRD bloc of lawmakers announced they would present a demand before the Supreme Court to have the new law declared unconstitutional, which still lacks the signature of the President before it becomes the law of the Republic. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: On the issue of the "police record." If you are considering hiring someone for a position as an employee, now (once this law is signed and goes into effect) you can require that person to present a copy of their "police record" which includes all convictions. The logic is simple - if you're about to hire someone for a position of trust, you should be able to know if that person has ever been convicted of a crime. On the issue of the "revocation of mandate" - there are a lot of politicians who were elected to political positions as PRD candidates, who are now switching over to Ricardo Martinelli's Cambio Democratico political party. The PRD was trying to say that they were legally able to "revoke the mandate" of these people, meaning they would have to be removed from their positions and that another election would have to be held, or the PRD would install a different person to take their place. The National Assembly changed the rules so that doing this is still legally possible, however it's now so difficult and complicated as to become practically impossible. And with regards to the potential for jail time for those who close streets in protest - get used to it. In the United States people hold protests and demonstrations all the time, and the announcements for those often include a reminder that says "all participants carrying signs are reminded to please remain at least four feet from the roadway at all times." The days of having Transistmica blocked for six hours by a handful of (30 year old) FER-29 "collage students" are over. There are small groups of persistent, radical troublemakers who have been taking advantage of the system for years. Maybe now the specter of a few months in jail, or a couple of years for those who violently attack police, might have those SUNTRACS workers thinking twice. And making them think twice is the whole idea. Now, let's see who will be the first person to be convicted and sentenced under this new law.

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Panama Relocation Attorneys

Law & Lawyers Panama Relocation Attorneys is a law firm located in the heart of Panama City. Whether you plan to invest in panama, relocate here, or both, our goal is simple: to provide outstanding and comprehensive legal services to our clients. The most important thing that should be considered when investing and moving into another country is your financial security, so we provide affordable legal packages to guide you through the investment and relocation process with ease. Our experienced and professional legal team handles forming corporations and foundations, all real estate transactions and escrow services, as well as offering comprehensive immigration and relocation services. Our lawyers are completely bilingual and willing to answer any and all of your questions. The most important thing that should be considered when investing and moving into another country is your security. Security is being safe in many issues, as for instance, the title of your property, your legalization status, proper insurance, and most important having people who will be there for you in case you have any trouble. If you are searching for these, then we are the company you are looking for.
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Anibal Salas Asks Judges to Decide Cases Quickly

Law & Lawyers The President of Panama's Supreme Court of Justice, Anibal Raúl Salas Cespedes, asked judges from now on to try to decide cases during the hearing as a way to reduce the backlog of cases. During a tour of the province of Chiriqui, Salas said this measure is a way to reduce the number of case files in process in the system, and also as a way to to prepare for what will be the new adversary judicial system, which will use oral testimony. Salas was accompanied by magistrates Winston Spadafora, Oydén Ortega, and Jerónimo Mejía and by the Director of the Judicial Backlog Program of Judge Rodolfo Palma who visited the different judge's offices in the province of Chiriqui. (Dia a Dia)

Editor's Comment: Most of the time in court cases in Panama, there is a date for an official hearing or "audience" in which both sides participate. The judge hears all of the testimony and evidence, and then he has thirty days to decide the case and issue a sentence. Anibal Salas is asking judges to just get on with it and to decide the cases right there in the hearing. And, why not? He's talking to the lower level judges who are on the first line. They need to stop pussy-footing around and move the cases through the system. The biggest problem with the Panamanian "justice" system is that it's too damn slow.

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Criminal Adversarial System Will Increase Speed and Transparency

Law & LawyersPanama's adoption of the Criminal Adversarial System will allow for more rapid and transparent trials, said Raul Olmos, a former judge and former coordinator of this initiative. Olmos said on PRC Radio the greatest responsibility in this mode of justice lies on the Direction of Judicial Investigation (DIJ), the National Police (PN) and the Public Ministry (MP). With the new system the prosecutors will have to comply with strict time limits and deadlines. Failure to do so could lead to a decision to close the case, while at the same time the judge in the case would feel severe legal consequences, said the former judge. Olmos said that with public oral trials the public will have access to what they want to receive, "prompt hearings." (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Panama has been talking about the idea of switching to a US-style live or oral hearing, and doing away with what they do now - everything done on paper in massive case files. Panamanian "justice" is nothing like what Americans have in their heads from watching court cases on television. Right now it's a very (very) slow and cumbersome process. It can take literally years to get a court date. All decisions and appeals are painfully slow. Things that should take weeks, or on the outside months, in really take years. Panama has been inching toward this new system, slowly but surely, for a long time. I see the concept popping its head back up now and again, and I wonder if it will ever really happen. In the Spanish language news they call this new system the "Sistema Penal Acusatorio" (SPA) (Criminal Adversarial System).

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Panama To Crack-Down on Deadbeat Parents (For Failure To Pay Child Support)

Law & LawyersFailure of parents to pay court ordered child support for their children is one of the main problems authorities seek to resolve through a bill that is being submitted for national consultation. The situation is serious throughout the country. Just in the Judicial Branch, during the past four years family court judges have ordered child support payments for parents who have custody of their children in 64,552 cases. Of those 46,026 (or 70%) of those required payments are not being made either completely or on time. At the municipal level, the local Justice of the Peace (Corregidor) can also handle child support cases. In these cases at this level the total amount owed and the levels of compliance nationwide are not known.

The proposal, which is being considered by the Commission of Legislative Affairs for the RIghts of Women, Children, Youth, and Family, proposes the adoption of some additional administrative measures that can be taken, with a goal of reducing or minimizing the failure of parents to make court ordered child support payments. The bill proposes that anyone who goes three months without making the required payments will see their name published on a list of delinquents in a national newspaper every six months. Municipalities may also refuse to issue certificates of "in good standing" for those parents who are delinquent in their child support payments. In addition, the Panamanian Credit Association will reflect those parents who are behind on their child support payments, so that their access to credit will be restricted until they are up to date on their payments.

During the consultations for the proposed bill, the committee expects to hear from judges, representatives, mayors, and magistrates - all who have expressed their support for the bill, said Superior Family Court Judge Nelly Cedeño de Paredes. The Justices of the Peace, judges, and magistrates say they face many problems when trying to notify delinquent parents, and in trying to bring them in for an audience in order to force them to fulfill their commitments. For Jose Delgado, a Magistrate for the Superior Family Court, part of the problem is a shortage of clerks and staff to track down and notify deadbeat parents, and the difficulties in reaching some of the remote areas where the staff have to go in order to notify delinquent parents that they are in contempt of court and in violation of a court order, because many of these have to be delivered to areas with high crime rates.

Meanwhile, the Coordinator of the Justices of the Peace in Colón, Rafael Ángel Moreno, said that now some employers are actually refusing to deduct child support payments from the paychecks of their employees, which is why he supports the establishment of sanctions in these kinds of cases. The proposal includes the creation of more Municipal Family Courts to expedite the hearings for contempt in child support cases.

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Tax Dodging in Panama - Ashland man part of massive tax evasion scheme

Law & LawyersUS Dept of Justice - Eight promoters of a fraudulent tax and debt elimination scheme were convicted of tax, wire fraud and money laundering charges by a federal jury following a month long trial in Pensacola, Fla., the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service ( IRS ) announced today. The defendants, who were indicted in September 2008, promoted fraudulent schemes through Pinnacle Quest International, also known as PQI and Quest International.

The charges and convictions were as follows:Claudia Constance Hirmer and Mark Steven Hirmer of Niceville, Fla., were each convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and tax evasion. Eugene “Gino” Joseph Casternovia of Ashland, Ore., Arnold Ray Manansala of Renton, Wash., Dover Eugene Perry of Renton, Wash., and Michael Guy Leonard of Troy, N.Y., were each convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Mark Daniel Leitner of Fairport, N.Y., and Arthur Ramirez Merino of Renton, Wash., were each convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit wire fraud.

According to the evidence presented during trial, PQI was an umbrella organization for numerous vendors of tax and credit card debt elimination scams. Some of the PQI vendors, such as Southern Oregon Resource Center for Education ( SORCE ), sold bogus theories and strategies for tax evasion. For fees starting at $10,000, SORCE assisted its customers in the creation of a series of sham business entities in the United States and Panama. Other tax-related PQI vendors denied the legitimacy of the income tax system on various theories and provided customers with a purported “reliance defense” that consisted of a paper trail of frivolous correspondence which a client could allegedly use as evidence of good faith if the client were prosecuted.

At trial, the government established that other PQI vendors sold fraudulent schemes for eliminating credit card debt, the most successful of which was Financial Solutions, owned and operated by defendant Arthur Merino. Financial Solutions charged its customers thousands of dollars for a series of letters to send to credit card companies disputing the lawfulness of the underlying debt. The product was wholly ineffective, and customers typically were sued by their creditors and often forced into bankruptcy.

According to the evidence, another PQI vendor, MYICIS, operated as a sophisticated, computerized “warehouse bank.” MYICIS was a single bank account in which customers pooled their money. MYICIS was promoted to PQI’s clients as a method to hide their assets from the IRS as a result of the pooled nature of the account. MYICIS had 3,000 clients and approximately $100 million in deposits over a three year period.

According to the evidence presented during trial, PQI purported to sell only CDs and tickets to offshore conferences. However, PQI acted as a gateway to its fraudulent vendors. PQI clients seeking the tax evasion and debt elimination vendors could only access the product if they joined PQI first. The cost of membership ranged from $1,350 to $18,750, depending on the level of access. In May 2008, a federal district court issued a preliminary injunction against the promoters of Pinnacle Quest International.

As established at trial by the government, defendants Claudia Hirmer, Dover Perry, Arnold Manansala, Michael Leonard and Arthur Merino were members of the executive council of PQI. The executive council selected vendors, guided the day-to-day operations of the company, planned offshore conferences, and fielded customers complaints, which were voluminous. Defendant Mark Hirmer managed PQI’s finances on a day-to-day basis. Between 2002 and 2008, PQI had over 11,000 members throughout the United States. Executive council member Joseph McPhillips pleaded guilty prior to trial.

According to the evidence presented, none of the defendants filed tax returns while they were involved in the PQI conspiracy. Claudia Hirmer and Mark Hirmer were convicted for evading the payment of over $2 million in income taxes, penalties, and interest for years 1996 through 2001. The Hirmers sought to evade the payment of their tax liability in numerous ways, including extensive use of cashier’s checks and cash and extensive use of nominee companies and offshore accounts. Additionally, the Hirmers attempted to strip the equity out of one of their homes by granting a bogus mortgage to a Panamanian nominee entity they controlled.

Judge Rodgers scheduled sentencing for July 6, 2010. Claudia Hirmer and Mark Hirmer each face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million. Casternovia, Manansala, Perry, and Leonard each face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a maximum fine of $750,000. Leitner and Merino each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

“Today’s convictions send a powerful and unequivocal message to those who seek to evade and help others evade their taxes,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John A. DiCicco of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “Those who promote tax fraud schemes will be investigated, prosecuted and convicted, and they also face substantial prison sentences.”

“The use of abusive trust schemes and fraudulent debt elimination tactics intended to conceal income from the IRS isn’t tax planning; it’s criminal activity. There is no secret formula that can eliminate a person’s tax obligations,” said Victor S. O. Song, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. “Today’s verdict reinforces our commitment to every American taxpayer that we will identify and prosecute those who promote illegal financial transactions designed to evade the payment of taxes.”

Judge Rodgers set aside the jury verdict as to a ninth defendant, Robert Pendell, and acquitted him of all counts.

Acting Assistant Attorney General DiCicco commended the IRS - Criminal Investigation Division special agents who investigated the case, as well as Tax Division trial attorneys Michael J. Watling, Adam F. Hulbig, and Jonathan R. Marx, who prosecuted the case.

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Ministry of Government and Justice Split Into Two New Ministries

Law & LawyersThe National Assembly approved in third debate, with the full support of the ruling majority and with the opposition PRD lawmakers abstaining from the vote, Bill Number 111 which created the Ministry of Public Security and Bill Number 112, which reorganizes the Ministry of Government and Justice into the new Ministry of the Interior. Gabriel Mendez was the only PRD lawmaker to vote in favor of both projects. Apparently, lawmakers were in a hurry to approve the laws, because the scheduled meeting did not start as originally announced but rather at midday, led by the Vice President of the National Assembly Rogelio Baruch. Until then it was rumored the third debate for these projects was going to be postponed until Monday due to low attendance. But when the President of the National Assembly, José Luis Varela, arrived, he convened the Assembly for the third debate and approval of both bills. Both bills were endorsed and approved in the third debate without the usual verification to determine if there was a quorum, first the Ministry of Public Security and then later the Ministry of the Interior.

The new Ministry of Public Security will include the National Police, the State Border Service (Senafront), the National Naval Air Service (Senan) and the National Immigration Service. Among the objectives of the project are to determine the country's security policies, plan, coordinate, control, and support the efforts of the intelligence and security sectors. The new Interior Ministry is comprised of the National Office for Attention to Refugees, the Directorate General of Posts and Telegraphs (Post Office), the General Directorate of Indigenous Policy, the National Directorate of Local Government, Passports, the Ground Transportation and Transit Authority (ATTT), the Civil Aviation Authority, and the Directorate General of the Prison System. This authority will be responsible for the country's socio-political organization, and shall ensure the peaceful coexistence of citizens and legal defense of the Nation.

Juan Carlos Arosemena, a member of the PRD, said the PRD lawmakers would abstain on the grounds that the "simple creation of these ministries is not a sensible criminological policy." He predicted these Ministries will be irrelevant as, in his opinion, what happened with the Ministry of the Canal. As for the support of his colleague, Gabriel Mendez, he said he respects his opinion, while at the same time denied that he is not following the guidelines of the collective. Panameñista lawmaker Alcibiades Vasquez said the passing of the new laws is a positive step, because it is a breakthrough in the fight against crime. The Minister of Government and Justice Jose Raul Mulino, who introduced the bill to the National Assembly, said the new ministry will work with the staff that currently exists. (El Siglo)

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Supreme Court Refuses Ana Matilde Gomez's Request to Travel to Washington DC

Law & LawyersThe former Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez was not surprised that the Supreme Court has decided to refuse her request for permission to leave the country, saying "they gave given me one more piece of evidence in my favor for my case against the state." Gomez said neither she nor her lawyers have been notified of the decision, because what has actually been circulating in the media is a press release, and not the actual resolution. "I'm not surprised because this occurred precisely when Judge Wilfredo Saénz recused himself from the case, however no one knows where is this document," said Gomez on Telemetro Reporta. "How dangerous can I be? Or what do they think I'm going to do in Washington? Could it be that the telling of my case could be so dangerous for the State of Panama?" asked Gomez about the decision of the Supreme Court. She added that the connotation that has been given to her performance from the point of view of risk, severity and intent, breaks any norm. Gomez was removed from office by the Supreme Court, after lawyers for former prosecutor Arquímedez Sáez file a complaint against her for the alleged crime of abuse of authority after she ordered eavesdropping on his telephone conversations. (Source - Panama America)
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Tax Office Drafts Bill To Shut Down Bail Loophole

Law & LawyersIn order to curb the illegal creation of bail bonds using land as a guarantee to secure a prisoner's release, the director of the Tax Office of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Publio Cortes, sent a draft of a new law to the Attorney General, Giusepe Bonissi. "We are analyzing the draft that I sent, making adjustments and discussing the text. Eventually, the Attorney General will make use of his legislative initiative and submit a draft to the National Assembly," said Cortez said as he left the Prosecutor's Office. He noted that once the owner of the farm used to secure the release on bail of former Education Ministers Belgis Castro and Salvador Rodriguez and former Municipal Engineer Jaime Salas is notified, they will conduct a visual inspection of this property on 24 March 2010. "We're are going through the process of conducting a formal appraisal in accordance with the law so that the real and actual value of the property will be reflected," he said. (Source - La Critica)

Editor's Comment: Good, they will be shutting down that loophole once and for all. I'm still waiting for someone to say that they are going to conduct a complete review of everyone who is currently released on bail, who used a property to guarantee the bond. There are probably dozens if not hundreds of people running around in the exact same status. This was apparently big business. This one farm was used to obtain the release on bail for thirteen people. Just one property. And like I said, they are completely focused on this case. What about others? Maybe nobody cares because they are not high profile cases?

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Official Panamanian Translator Needed (With Stamp) For Jerry Ray Hall Criminal and Civil Case Materials

Law & Lawyers By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I've got some documents, email, and websites I need to have translated from English to Spanish by someone who has an official stamp and permit from the Panamanian government. I have to have all of the material being generated by Jerry Ray Hall translated from English to Spanish before I submit them to the Notary Public to be notarized as evidence, for inclusion in my criminal and civil complaints against him. It's a lot of stuff, and I'm looking for someone who wants to make some extra money but who's not going to charge me an arm and a leg. In the Republic of Panama all legal documents have to be translated into Spanish before they can be included as evidence in a complaint, and then notarized. The "Doctor of Fake" Jerry Ray Hall has been hard at work, burning the midnight oil to create and disseminate even more slanderous lies and allegations about me (which I call "evidence") and I need to get the complaints filed against him sooner rather than later. Anyway, if you happen to have a good hardworking (officially authorized) translator with a stamp, please let them know I'm looking to farm out some work. Send replies to don@panama-guide.com and thanks.

Copyright 2009 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Ana Matilde Gomez Asks For Permission To Travel To Washington DC

Law & LawyersAna Matilde Gomez, who was suspended from the position of Attorney General by the Supreme Court, returned to ask permission to travel to Washington DC in the United States in order to present her case before the Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States. According to Gomez, her's is the most emblematic case in Panama in the material of the administration of justice to be presented to the Organization of American States, for the speed, lack of responsiveness, and other elements that have not been attended. She said that in case her request to be able to travel is denied, she would submit a letter through her attorneys explaining how the political situation has impacted her case through a statement. The Citizens' Alliance for Justice is helping to give the opportunity to Gomez to take her case to the Organization of American States, after her separation on 5 February 2010 over the alleged abuse of authority.

Editor's Comment: Maybe while in DC she could also get copies of any old intelligence reports that might exist from 1989 and 1990 detailing the possible participation of Gustavo Perez in the kidnapping of US civilians during the Just Cause invasion. Just a thought...

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National Assembly Passes Tax Reform Law

Law & LawyersBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - With 40 votes in favor and 15 against, Panama's National Assembly approved a tax reform package this afternoon. This proposal was put forward by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and it will now go to President Ricardo Martinelli for signature. All this week there has been heated discussion over this tax reform, with the government arguing that the new tax structure will force those with more money to pay more, while reducing the tax burden of those who make less. An increase in the ITBMS sales tax from 5% to 7% was included in this package.

Copyright 2009 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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PRD Files Complaint Over Bonissi Appointment

Law & LawyersThe Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) presented this afternoon before the Supreme Court a complaint of unconstitutionality against the appointment of the replacement Attorney General, Giuseppe Bonissi. The demand of the opposition party establishes that Bonissi's appointment violated the precepts established in the Constitution of Panama. The President of the PRD party, Francisco Sanchez Cardenas, said this action was filed over the way Bonissi was appointed which violated the Constitution, because the figure of "Deputy Prosecutor" does not exist. "However, they used this action in violation of the Constitution and appointed a deputy," said Sanchez Cardenas according to a press release. (Source: La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Considering the Supreme Court removed Ana Matilde Gomez from her position, I doubt this PRD complaint will get far.

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"Ana Matilde Gomez Should Return Her Paycheck" - Bonissi

Law & Lawyers
Giuseppe Bonissi - Attorney General of Panama
Giuseppe Bonissi - Attorney General of Panama
Panama's Attorney General Giuseppe Bonissi said today Ana Matilde Gomez should return the salary she received after being suspended from the position of Attorney General. Bonissi reacted after Gomez said yesterday that she has been getting paid even though she was suspended from the position on 28 January 2010. Bonissi told the local press that "if memory serves me, the payroll was closed on the 3rd or 4th day of the month," and therefore, Gomez was paid. He said there are more than 2,400 people on the payroll of the Public Ministry and that's why the payroll is closed on that date, he added. However, Bonissi said the paycheck in question corresponds to the first 15 days of February 2010. Therefore, Gomez should return the money that is not hers, he said. "She was paid in full, without the necessary corrections being made, he said, and he went on to say that the Public Ministry has sent a note to Gomez, explaining the situation to her and indicating how she should return the money. Gomez said on Monday that "once I was suspended they should have ordered the suspension of the payments, however, they have continued to pay me." She said she informed the Public Ministry of 12 February that she had received her paycheck. Ana Matilde Gomez was suspended from the position of Attorney General by the Supreme Court, thanks to an investigation taking place in the Office of Administration, over phone taps she ordered against former prosecutor Arquimedes Saez. (Source: La Prensa)
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Ana Matilde Gomez's Losing Battle Over Phone Taps - Game Over

Law & Lawyers
Rigoberto Gónzalez
Rigoberto Gónzalez
By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - This morning I spoke with Rigoberto Gónzalez, the former Secretary General of the Attorney General's Office in Panama. Rigoberto Gónzalez basically worked as the "right-hand man" for Ana Matilde Gomez while she was the Attorney General of Panama. He resigned after the Supreme Court decided to suspend Ana Matilde Gomez from her position as the Attorney General. I discussed the case with him, and it's obvious the administration of Ricardo Martinelli simply wanted Ana Matilde Gomez out of the way. Once Martinelli appointed two new magistrates to the Supreme Court in early January 2010 he had a majority on the court. They followed his lead and suspended her from office. The next thing they did was to give the "Prosecutor for the Administration" who had formed the charges against Ana Matilde Gomez basically unlimited time to conduct his investigation - he can take as long as he wants. According to Rigoberto Gónzalez, it's obvious to him that the desire and intent of the current administration is to just allow the case against Ana Matilde Gomez to fester for the next five years, until her term in office runs out. She was appointed to the position in 2005 by Martin Torrijos. Once her ten-year term in office is over, then the Supreme Court will allow the case to proceed. Gónzalez explained how technically the case rests on an element of interpretation - exactly who is the "judicial authority" authorized to conduct telephone wiretaps. He said they made the determination that in fact Ana Matilde Gomez had the authority to order the wiretaps, while the Supreme Court later disagreed. Anyway, an element of interpretation is not necessarily a criminal act. No matter, because after five more years have passed, according to Rigoberto Gónzalez, the Supreme Court will simply find Ana Matilde Gomez innocent of all charges, close the case, and that will be that. However, by then they would have achieved their true goal of having kept her out of the position and replacing her with a man of Martinelli's choosing, Giuseppe Bonissi. In short, they know exactly what's going on and why, and there's not a damn thing they can do about it. Game over.

Copyright 2009 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Bonissi Cleaning House at the Public Ministry

Law & LawyersNearly two weeks after Giuseppe Bonissi took command of the Public Ministry, layoffs begin arriving in the form of resignations. A group of Public Ministry administrative officials considered by Bonissi to be "associates" of Ana Matilde Gomez, the former Attorney General - who was removed from her post by order of the Supreme Court - were forced to resign, according to testimony from those affected. Bonissi delegated the task of seeking their resignations to the former prosecutor from Chiriqui and the new Secretary General of the MP, Nedelka Diaz, they added. We attempted to obtain a reaction from Diaz on the assertions of former officials, but received no answer. For the moment 20 staff members will be replaced. The list includes directors, department heads, project coordinators, legal counsel, assistants and security personnel. Bonissi also revoked permission to study during working hours, and instructed prosecutors that they can not give interviews to the press without permission. (Source: La Prensa)
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Bill Submitted on Management and Sale of Seized Property

Law & LawyersThe government of Ricardo Martinelli intends to make some changes, so that any property seized by the Public Ministry will be passed to the control of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF). The proposal was submitted to the National Assembly by the Minister of Government and Justice, Jose Raul Mulino, in a bill that seeks to amend Law Number 23 of 1986 on seized property. Under the proposal, the MP would inform the MEF when the property is perishable or if it might become damaged or deteriorate. Following an appraisal to property will be sold through a public auction. According to Minister Mulino right now there are many cars, yachts, houses and other properties that are deteriorating while the associated legal cases move forward, which could be used by the various institutions. When maintenance of movable or immovable property becomes onerous for the State, the MEF would be able to grant provisional administration or custody. Once the offender has been convicted, the money raised by the sale of the assets will be dispersed in the following manner - 30% will go to the National Commission for the Study and Prevention of Drug-Related Crimes (Conapred) and 70% will be used to strengthen the security forces which fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Government and Justice, said the draft law. These funds will be regulated through control and management procedures established by the Comptroller General of the Republic. (Source: La Prensa)
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ACODECO Seizes 25 Pound Gas Tanks from Businesses

Law & Lawyers The Authority for Consumer Protection and Defense of Competition (ACODECO) inspected several restaurants in the city of Chitre, in the province of Herrera. The inspectors said they were seeking to ensure the safety of Panamanians who will be visiting this province to enjoy carnival. They added they seized 25 pound gas tanks from some hotels and restaurants. Similarly, ACODECO also inspected some other businesses, bakeries, restaurants, and pizzerias in the province of Veraguas an seized about thirty 25 pound gas tanks. Rolando Murgas, the Director of ACODECO in Veraguas, said they would apply the applicable fines which could go as high as $25,000 dollars. (Source: Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The Panamanian government establishes price controls on cooking fuel, and the smaller 25 pound propane gas tanks are subsidized and therefore cost less. Commercial operations such as restaurants and bakeries are expressly prohibited from using these small tanks. If they are found the authorities confiscate the tanks and fine the shop owners. This story has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with making sure the subsided gas is not abused.

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Martinelli Asks Bonissi to Be Firm

Law & LawyersThe president, Ricardo Martinelli, gave made an appeal to the new Attorney General, Giuseppe Bonissi, during a ceremony for 413 new police officers who graduated from the police academy yesterday. "I want to ask the Attorney General - don't let your hand tremble, no you nor the prosecutors nor the judges - in order to investigate and to bring justice independently," said the President, microphone in hand, from the main podium. Martinelli made the call, although he himself acknowledged during the ceremony it does not fall to the Executive branch of government to "administer justice." "Justice should not only apply to the sons of the cook while the (rich and powerful) walk away freely," he added. Bonissi - who now has been on the job for just a week - had a quick response. "I will be very hard, very hard," he said. This week, amid criticism he had appointed a close ally to be in charge of the Public Ministry, Martinelli said he just met Bonissi and he knows nothing about the new prosecutors. Yesterday, Bonissi also said he would institute a policy of not discussing in the press those cases being investigated in the Public Ministry. In regards to the investigation following the suspended Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez, he said he did not know the status of the case. (Source: La Prensa)
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Supreme Court Extends Ana Matilde Gomez Investigation Indefinitely

Law & LawyersA request for an extension submitted by Nelson Rojas, the Prosecutor (in charge) of Administration to continue his investigation against the suspended Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez was accepted by the Supreme Court. This morning the court issued a resolution granting the extension. However the Supreme Court did not establish a time period or limit within which the investigations are to be completed. Supreme Court judge Luis Mario Carrasco, acting as the replacement for Jerónimo Mejía, disagreed with the decision and said it might represent a violation of due process in the investigations being carried out against Ana Matilde Gomez. As part of this process the interrogation of Ana Matilde Gomez is still pending and will have to be accomplished eventually. On Monday Ana Matilde Gomez went to the offices of the Prosecutor of Administration and she was not questioned because the case file was at the Supreme Court. (Source: Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Basically, the Supreme Court is sending a loud and clear message to Ana Matilde Gomez - get comfortable, because this thing isn't going forward any time soon. Nelson Rojas asked for an extension because all prosecutors have to work within legally mandated timelines to complete their investigations. If the time runs out then they have to go to the judge responsible for the case (in this case the Supreme Court because the accused is the Attorney General) and ask for more time to complete their investigations. Normally the judge or judges will respond with an extension and specific instructions. Like, make sure to gather this and that evidence, and you have six months or a year to complete your work. In this case the Supreme Court failed to specify a timeline, meaning that Rojas can just toss the file in the bottom drawer of this desk and forget about it until after the elections of May 2014. Game, set, match.

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Nedelka Diaz - New Secretary General of the Public Ministy

Law & Lawyers
Nedelka Diaz - New Secretary General of the Public Ministry
Nedelka Diaz - New Secretary General of the Public Ministry
Changes, rotations and resignations continue at the Public Ministry, after the arrival Attorney General Giuseppe Bonissi. One of the first changes was the entry of Nedelka Diaz, who replaces Rigoberto Gonzalez as the Secretary General of the Public Ministry. In her first public statement as the new Secretary General, Diaz sent a message of calm to the officials who work at the institution, saying "fear is not of God." (Source: Telemetro Reporta)
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Supreme Court May Have Violated International Treaty

Law & LawyersThe Panamanian Supreme Court might have violated the Treaty on Civil and Political Rights adopted by Panama through Law 14 of 1976 in their action to separate Ana Matilde Gomez from her position as the Attorney General of Panama, said Juan Antonio Tejada, a former Ombudsman and now one of Gomez's defense lawyers. According to Tejada, the treaty expressly enshrines the "right to a fair judge" and the right to submit effective petitions in order to preserve one's rights and liberties. Both rights, Tejada said, have been denied by Judge Wilfredo Saenz, who acted alone in his capacity as the rapporteur in the case against Gomez in rejecting the petitions filed by Gomez. With his unusually swift action Saenz prevented the petitions from reaching the full court. Tejada said that it is both "ironic" and "contradictory" that the Supreme Court in their ruling that orders the separation of Gomez from the position of Attorney General, cited Article 14 of Law 14 of 1976 of that international treaty. Consequently, the lawyer said Gomez would file a complaint with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR). "This opens the possibility that we may use the international system to ensure the recognition of Gomez's fundamental guarantees of due process," said Tejada. The defense attorney also said that Gomez is preparing for the investigation ordered by the Supreme Court, as part of the complaint made by former prosecutor Arquimedes Saez. (Source: La Prensa)
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Giuseppe Bonissi's First Day On The Job

Law & Lawyers Not wasting time. Newly appointed Attorney General Giuseppe Bonissi reported to work today at the headquarters of the Public Ministry to begin the coordination of some of his first acts as the man in charge of the institution. Bonissi intends to take action immediately - among those being changes to the staff, audits, and basic needs. On RPC Radio Bonissi said in some cases he would accept the resignations of some of the prosecutors who have "made their positions available" and that others he would analyze. With regard to high profile cases, Bonissi said "that's an expression that does not exist in legal terms," however he said they would apply all speed as required by law. Nedelka Diaz, who replaced Rigoberto Gonzalez as the General Secretary, also reported to work on Saturday. Source: Telemetro Reporta)
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Ana Matilde Gomez Has Been Removed From Office

Law & Lawyers "It's a sad moment because I studied law and aspired to have by rights acknowledged," said Ana Matilde Gomez who was suspended from the position of Panama's Attorney General today, Friday, 5 February 2010. "From day one my rights have been violated," Gomez told reporters who were waiting outside of the Attorney General's office across the street from the Parque Porras. "I'm not destroyed," said Gomez, who, along with officials from the Public Ministry - walked out the front door of the institution. Outside, a white Lexus was waiting for her. Deception - "I regret that the nine judges of the [Supreme Court] have not spoken out," Gomez said, referring to the resources of reconsideration she filed to stop the suspension from office. Because, she said, "the law is on my side and I have not committed any crime." But she added that "history has its own destiny for each individual." Thus, Gomez said: More than the hope of returning to the position of Attorney General, what remains now is "the hope than justice will prevail." (Source: La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Good. That drama is finally over. Now, can we please get back to the serious business of tossing corrupt PRD politicians in jail? I mean, that's what all of this crap has really been about, anyway. Ana Matilde Gomez was simply not doing her job. The whole thing about the cell-tap was just an excuse to toss her out. If it wasn't for that, they would have found another reason. And today Ricardo Martinelli takes one more step towards world domination - except in his case I think he's BOTH Pinky and the Brain. And if you don't get the reference then you're too old...

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A "Stampede" of Resignations In The Public Ministry

Law & Lawyers
Rigoberto Gonzalez
Rigoberto Gonzalez
Faced with the imminent suspension from office of Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez, prosecutors and administrative officers of the Public Ministry (MP) decided to resign their positions or to make them available to be decided by her replacement, Giuseppe Bonissi, according to sources from this institution and some of the protagonists themselves. Among those who have resigned are the Superior Prosecutors James Bernard and Eduardo Guevara. Both confirmed their decisions to La Prensa. Guevara the Fourth Superior Prosecutor and the Prosecutor for Intellectual Property, respectively. The suspension of Gomez also had an effect on the staff. Kenya Purcell, Deputy Secretary General of the Public Ministry, said she will resign. On Wednesday, the General Secretary Rigoberto Gonzalez said he was going to resign as well in support of Gomez. Gioconda Emiliani, Secretary of Communications and Juan Herrera, head of security, do not rule out doing the same, according to a source. Meanwhile, Auxiliary Prosecutor Luis Martinez, who was appointed by Gomez as the "caretaker" of her office pending the outcome of investigations against her, said he would wait to see how the situation develops in the MP to make a decision on his future. A source said, what's more, that Gonzalez said that Giovany Olmos - who Gomez dismissed as the Environmental Prosecutor - would replace him as secretary-general. Moreover, the new Replacement Attorney General Giuseppe Bonissi said yesterday that former Attorney General Jorge Ramón Valdés will be his adviser. Not surprisingly, the Assembly ratified Giuseppe Bonissi.

With a quick vote the Deputies of the National Assembly confirmed Giuseppe Amadeo Bonissi as the Replacement Attorney General of the Nation, despite warnings that it would be a violation of the Constitution, made by opposition PRD lawmakers, independent lawyers, and sectors of the civil society. During the full session a few lawmakers from the Panameñista political party were conspicuously absent, such as José Blandón, José Luis Varela and Alcibiades Vásquez. When the president of the debate, Noriel Salerno, announced that he would vote, PRD lawmaker asked to speak. Salerno refused, saying that he was not on the list. Avila ran to the front of the floor shouting "Abuse! Abuse! Abuse!" but the official vote taker had already declared the ratification of the one designated by President Ricardo Martinelli.

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