Tuesday 12th December 2023.

December 11, 2023


The Superior Court for Settlement of Criminal Cases sent to the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice the appeal presented by former president Ricardo Martinelli against the ruling that sentenced him to 128 months in prison for the New Business case .

Through edict No 506 , published by the Court Secretariat, the parties are informed that the appeal was accepted with suspensive effect and was sent to the magistrates of the Criminal Chamber for resolution.

The appeals filed by the defense of Daniel Ochy, Valentín Martínez Vásquez, Iván Arturo Arrocha and Janeth Vásquez, who were also convicted of the crimes of money laundering, were also sent to the Criminal Chamber of the Court.

The case is related to the purchase of Editora Panamá América S.A (Epasa) with State resources through the company New Business.

Now the appeal must be distributed among the judges of the Criminal Chamber of the Court, which is made up of María Eugenia López, Maribel Cornejo and Ariadne García.

One of the main arguments of former President Martinelli (2009-2014) to request the annulment of his conviction for the crime of money laundering in the New Business case points out that the criminal judge Baloisa Marquínez “did not adequately value” the testimony of Eliseo Ábrego , expert from the Judicial Investigation Directorate (DIJ).

According to the appeal presented last Tuesday, December 5, by Carlos Carrillo, Martinelli’s lawyer, the expert never carried out an accounting or stock review of the companies that participated in the purchase of Epasa.

The Attorney General of the Administration, Rigoberto González , expressed that the process of closing the copper mine in Donoso has to be transparent and with citizen participation.

“What must be kept in mind is that this process implies taking the population into account,” said Attorney General González this Monday, almost two weeks after the Supreme Court of Justice declared unconstitutional the contract between the State and Minera Panamá for the extraction of copper in Donoso, province of Colón.

“Once the program to follow has been developed, the right to citizen participation must be granted. “There should be as much transparency as possible, so that citizens know what is being done and feel that they are being taken into account,” he stated.

Following the Court’s decision, the Government reported that the first inter-institutional meeting had already been held in order to begin developing the steps to follow for the mine closure process.

Furthermore, on December 6, the Ministry of Commerce and Industries informed Minera Panamá that it had to suspend activities in the project.

Following this ruling, the company announced that on November 29 it began an arbitration process before the International Court of Arbitration.

Regarding this arbitration process, Attorney General González said that one of the advantages that Panama has is that there is a Supreme Court ruling in its favor.

Furthermore, he opined that when these types of arbitration actions are sometimes announced it is because sometimes they want to start a negotiation.

“That is, take me into account for the coming process. And environmental experts say that the company cannot be marginalized in this process. Because? There they mention it in a very clear way: the polluter pays. Therefore, if there is contamination there, the entire process that is going to be carried out has to be done with the participation of the mine; not so that it continues operating indefinitely, but so that the objective is achieved in the closing process,” he explained.

After learning of the unanimous ruling of the plenary session of the Supreme Court, the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo , expressed that due to the impact of the closure process, each decision made has to be addressed in a responsible, inclusive and participatory manner.

The Electoral Court reported that this Monday, December 11, the first coordination meeting was held for the three televised presidential debates , which will be held prior to the elections on May 5, 2024.

According to the entity, the first meeting with the strategic partners to carry out the debates was held with Judge Eduardo Valdés Escoffery , director of the General Election Plan and with Yara Ivette Campo, substitute judge and institutional executive director.

The international consultant Rubén Álvarez, directors of IDEA International, Electoral Organization teams, Legal Advisory, Communication Directorate and the Center for Digital Studies and Monitoring also participated.

It should be remembered that the first presidential debate is scheduled for February 21, 2024 and the University of Panama will be the host, while television production will be carried out by TVN Media .

For the second presidential debate, which will take place on March 13, it will take place in the format known as ‘town hall’, which consists of public participation and includes topics of interest to young people between 16 and 28.

This debate will be carried out by the Electoral Tribunal, together with the Panamanian Debate Association and the television production will be carried out by the state-run Sertv .

Finally, the third debate will be held on April 17 in coordination with the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama and will be produced by Corporación Medcom .

With the reforms to the Electoral Code in 2021, it was established that for the 2024 elections, citizens will have the option to see and listen to the strategies and plans of the presidential candidates in three debates, instead of two, as previously contemplated by the electoral rule.

The General Directorate of Revenue (DGI) has decided that as of January 2024, liberal professions, such as architects, lawyers, doctors or accountants, must use electronic billing. To do this, the entity will be issuing a decree that is already going through the offices of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) for the respective validations.

Law 256 of 2021 formalized the use of electronic invoices as a method and established its obligation through a decree with several adoption calendars.

In the first phase, a group of activities that were absent were those of “services provided in liberal, artisanal and artistic professions, independently or through civil societies.” This, despite the fact that it does appear in Law 256 of 2021, among the activities that would be included in the adoption calendar.

The general director of Revenue, Publio De Gracia, had already announced that his office’s recommendation was the use of electronic invoicing as the “only method” of billing starting in January 2024.

In statements given within the framework of an event organized by this newspaper last October, De Gracia said that he would recommend to the MEF that as of January 2, 2024, electronic invoicing was the only billing method, but, “evidently with some exceptions that will be determined by the regulations.”

It is not surprising, then, that the processing of the respective decrees is advancing to execute a plan that seems imminent.

However, lawyers oppose continuing on the list of activities required to use electronic invoices, presenting new claims of unconstitutionality before the Supreme Court of Justice. The National Council of Cooperatives of Panama has the same position.

De Gracia, for his part, indicated that “we hope that in the coming weeks the new regulations for the use of electronic invoices should be signed and published in the Official Gazette .”

A new ship, the Green Sky, is avoiding congestion in the Panama Canal by sailing around South America through the Strait of Magellan, as reported by Bloomberg at the end of last week, when it detailed that the oil tanker, belonging to Aegean Shipping , left the east coast of the United States bound for the Valparaíso region.

Unlike the operation of the Frankopan vessel, which also avoids the Panama Canal by taking the maritime passage located at the southern tip of Chile, the Green Sky transports diesel with ultra-low sulfur content from Citgo Petroleum Corp’s Clifton Ridge terminal ., located in Louisiana.

This change in route occurs due to prolonged delays in the Panama Canal, due to low water due to a historic drought.

The high temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, aggravated by the presence of the El Niño phenomenon and the late start of the rainy season in 2023, have directly impacted the freshwater levels in the Canal’s reservoirs, which are essential for its operations.

Precipitation in October was the lowest recorded for that month since 1950, 41% below expected levels. And the year 2023 is about to close as the second driest year on record.

As there is less water, the number of ships that transit the canal and the cargo they transport is restricted.

When there is less space for daily transits, the queue of waiting vessels expands, which represents additional operating costs to the toll increases applied in fiscal year 2023.

The Green Sky’s journey is expected to take about a week longer than through the canal, but freight rates have reached unprecedented levels, the Bloomberg publication says. Although the Green Sky ship’s voyage marks the first shipment of diesel from the US Gulf Coast to South America in three years, refineries in Texas and Louisiana have been known to divert shipments across the Atlantic to European markets when the Panama is congested.

The National Aeronaval Service (Senan) reported that in the last few hours they achieved a fourth drug seizure after an operation in the Las Perlas Archipelago, in the Panamanian Pacific.

It is stated that on Sunday, in joint actions with the Public Ministry, 1,270 packages of drugs were seized in the waters of Punta Coco and according to a report from the Ministry of Security, in 24 hours Senan seized 7.9 tons of drugs.

In addition, it is reported that on Saturday, in conjunction with the Los Santos Drug Prosecutor’s Office, 1,449 packages with illicit substances were seized.

In the operation, a speedboat was detained and two men were apprehended southeast of Punta Mala, Los Santos.

On the other hand, on Saturday in the waters of Punta Burica, Chiriquí, four people who were on a speed boat were detained and when they noticed police presence they threw some packages into the water, Senan reported. After the arrest, it was confirmed that the bags contained 2,852 packages with illicit substances.


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