Thursday 15th December 2022.

December 15, 2022


The Public Ministry (MP) is still doing the investigative work to determine the exact causes of the explosion that occurred, last November, in the PH Urbana , located at Calle 54, Obarrio. This was stated this Wednesday, by sources from the entity consulted by La Prensa. Yeterday marked one month and 14 days since the explosion occurred on the 12th floor of the building, which has a total of 33 floors. The sources said that the tests of the fire detection sensors, inspection of pipes, among others, are carried out. In fact, it was reported that this Wednesday the Superior Prosecutor for Primary Care of the Metropolitan Area, Julio Villarreal, continued to carry out errands in the building, together with personnel from the Technological University of Panama and the Panama Fire Department. The residents of PH Urbana have insisted that they hope that the investigations into this “unprecedented” event will be carried out impartially and objectively. “We want the investigations to advance objectively and impartially, where the structural experts, the testimonies, the results of the alarm tests, the gas expertise are taken into account,” said Jorge Gavrilidis, spokesman for the group of lawyers. of the residents of floors 11, 12 and 14, the most affected by the explosion. “We seek that the investigation proceeds objectively and that responsibilities are disclosed when we have the results in hand,” he said. “With these results, we can say that we are going to activate ourselves judicially,” added Gavrilidis.

The first judge to liquidate criminal cases, Agueda Rentería, ordered the summons to trial for 198 people for the alleged commission of the crime of embezzlement to the detriment of the Transit and Land Transportation Authority (ATTT), through the compensation process for the “Red Devils”. buses The judge also declared the criminal action prescribed for another 337 people. Through mixed order No. 10 of December 12, Judge Rentería also granted a definitive dismissal in favor of six people, who were accused of the crime of fraud, and for another 19 for the crime of embezzlement. In this case, the anti-corruption prosecutor Anilú Batista -during the preliminary hearing held between the months of March and May in the facilities of the Roberto Durán gymnasium- had requested the summons to trial of 541 people for having irregularly received the money from the compensation of the “red devils” buses to make way for the operation of the Metro Bus service. Rentería set a trial date of September 1 to 29, 2023, and an alternate date of October 9 to December 7, 2023, both hearings at 9:00 a.m. In her resolution, Judge Rentería also denied the motions for annulment presented by the defense attorneys and declared criminal extinction for two other people. The court denied a request for modification of the precautionary measure preventing three other defendants from leaving the country.

The deputy president of the Government Commission, Leandro Ávila, said this Wednesday, that they hope that within the first 20 days of January 2023, a subcommittee will render a report on bill 625, which adopts the legislation of extinction of domain regarding illicit assets in the country.”It is an issue that is being evaluated in great depth,” said Ávila. He explained that the subcommittee, which began with the analysis last October, must render the report to the members of the Government Commission, which must approve or not approve the bill  promoted by the Government in the first debate. Regarding the delay in the discussions of the initiative, he assured that “I don’t think it has been delayed. I received it four months ago, from the other directors of the commission. It was such a macaronic law that they have not presented, that it violates the right of citizens, ”he said.

Some 21 people have been apprehended as part of 30 search procedures carried out by Panamanian officials, with the aim of dismantling a criminal structure dedicated to international drug trafficking, money laundering, among other crimes.This is Operation Focus, carried out by the Public Ministry, through the First Drug Prosecutor, in conjunction with the National Police and the National Aeronaval Service, in the  provinces of Bocas del Toro, Chiriquí, Veraguas, Panama West and Colon. This criminal structure –based in the province of Bocas del Toro– provided logistical support to the Clan del Golfo (Colombia) in the mobilization of its drug shipments. According to the investigations carried out by the Drug Prosecutor’s Office, this group used the coasts of Colón, Punta Burica and those of Bocas del Toro to store and guard the drugs, for its subsequent shipment to Costa Rica.These operations included various ports on both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai) , headed by Elsa Fernández, faces a tough obstacle to administratively investigate the case of economic aid granted by the Institute for the Training and Use of Human Resources (Ifarhu), to students close to political figures, mostly from the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD). In a note dated Tuesday, December 6, Bernardo Meneses, director of Ifarhu, made it clear to Antai that he will not hand over the files of 13 people who benefited from juicy financial aid, because they contain “data personal” and -according to him- it is information that cannot be shared, according to Law 81 of March 26, 2019, on the protection of personal data. In a note, Meneses supports his decision on nine reasons based on Laws 81 of 2019, Law 6 of 2002, (which dictates rules for transparency in public management) and Law 33 of 2013, which created Antai. He points out that in the information contained in the file documentation requested by Antai, there is personal data of both the students and their families. For example, full name, copy of personal identity card, amounts disbursed, residential address, bank account numbers, email address, qualifications and medical data, among others.

Meneses cites Law 6 of 2002, which indicates that “all types of information in the hands of State agents or any public institution that is relevant to (…) the intimate life of individuals, including his family affairs (…) his correspondence and telephone conversations or those maintained by any other audiovisual or electronic means ”. However the former Accounts Prosecutor, Guido Rodríguez, indicated that it is “illegal” not to share the information with Director Fernández. How will Antai be able to fulfill its functions if another state entity denies it access to the required information? He also pointed out that Meneses’ response deserves a writ of habeas data by Antai before the plenary session of the Supreme Court of Justice. “The Data Protection Law is to prevent the private data of individuals from being misused by individuals, but it is absurd to pretend that this protection reaches state entities in their investigative functions,” he said. In the words of the lawyer Ernesto Cedeño, who filed the complaint with Antai at the time, the response is “out of order”, since “no institution in terms of data protection is above Antai”.

The Comptroller General of the Republic published this Wednesday, December 14, the population and housing census questionnaire so that people know in advance the information that they must provide to the enumerators. According to the comptroller, Gerardo Solís, each question in the questionnaire “fulfills a relevant function to collect the information that will allow us to work on plans and public policies for sustainable development, in terms of housing, health, education, work and security.” The census questionnaire is divided into five chapters: housing location, housing data, household data, list of household occupants, and population data.

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