Wednesday 18th January 2023.

January 18, 2023

Substitute judge Dieter Targanski Gómez, of the Second Criminal Case Settlement Court, accepted a brief of opposition presented by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor against the decision to annul the arrest warrant against the brothers Luis Enrique and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares within the processes that they are followed for alleged money laundering in the Odebrecht and Blue Apple cases. Through orders 5 and 6, issued on January 6, the court explains that in the case of bail to avoid being detained, an appeal filed by the defense of the Martinelli Linares brothers, it is not feasible to annul the arrest warrant, since it had been reviewed by the Superior Settlement Court. At the same time, it explains that an arrest warrant for the purpose of extradition cannot be annulled if said order has not been issued. In this sense, the judge points out that his office has not formalized any procedure regarding the extradition of the Martinelli brothers, so it could badly render an order that has not been issued without effect. The lawyer Carlos Carrillo filed a request before the court to annul the preventive detention and the request for extradition of the sons of former President Ricardo Martinelli, alleging that his clients agree to return to Panama, once the 36 month sentence has been served.Luis Enrique and Ricardo Alberto pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder $28 million in bribes from Odebrecht, using the US financial system. According to the US authorities, these bribes benefited “a close relative and senior official” of the  Panamanian government. Shortly after, both confessed that they acted on direct orders from their father. Once the Martinelli brothers are released, they should return to Panama, since, although part of their sentence there includes two years of probation, both lack immigration status that allows them to remain on US soil. The defense of the Martinelli brothers maintain that their clients are innocent of the charges against them in both processes and allege that it is all about “political persecution.”

An administrative complaint to investigate whether the participation of various public entities in the Las Mil Polleras parade, held last weekend in the city of Las Tablas, was financed with public funds was filed with the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai). The complaint filed by the lawyer Ernesto Cedeño states that only one of the institutions that participated in the parade reported having spent the sum of $25,000, according to the Panama Compra portal. Cedeño stressed that according to information collected in the media, some 25 government institutions participated in the Las Mil Polleras parade, most of which have not given details of their expenditures. In his opinion, using public resources for this activity constitutes a “waste” of money that should be used to solve such urgent problems with the repair of streets and provision of drinking water to people with limited economic resources. He specified that he asked Antai to investigate all the institutions that participated in the Las Mil Polleras parade and establish the origin of the funds used for their participation in this event. The complaint indicates the possible violation of the code of ethics of public servants and even the existence of some type of criminal responsibility for the improper use of State funds.

Surveillance cameras are a key tool for the investigations carried out by the Public Ministry in criminal acts, homicide prosecutor Rafael Baloyes highlighted on Tuesday. The prosecutor stressed that technology has allowed them to obtain more information to conclude cases, locating the perpetrators of different events such as traffic accidents, homicides and femicides. “We have managed to prosecute many people who have committed crimes in public places and today they are detained,” said Baloyes, who added that these monitoring centers must be strengthened so that they can be extended to the national level. Video surveillance centers with smart cameras for surveillance are currently operating in Panama, Colón, La Chorrera, in West Panama; and David, in Chiriquí. “From 2022 there are 52% of the cases that are already charged. Of this, 25%, thanks to the cameras, it has been possible to establish the identification of people, of vehicles that participated and the modality in which an act of assassination or another different one is carried out. Likewise in transit events,” said the prosecutor. Baloyes argued that a certain fact is no longer left to the appreciation of an expert or a witness to establish different versions in a transit event in favor of a party. He added that with this technological tool it is possible to establish how the events occurred and who is responsible.

The National Police reported this Tuesday that it seized 1,234 drug packages in a Panamanian Pacific port and that one person was arrested in the operation.The authorities reported that the illicit substance came in a container from Mexico and that it had Belgium as its final destination. Also, the Police reported that 211 people were apprehended recently. Of this number, 104 for documentation, 18 for flagrante delicto (a legal term used to indicate that a criminal has been caught in the act of committing an offence), 78 for administrative offenses, 10 linked to micro-trafficking and 1 to drug trafficking. As part of the police actions, 37 raids were carried out, 4 vehicles with reports of robbery and theft were recovered, 4 firearms and 82 rounds of ammunition were confiscated. In addition, 14 foreigners were processed before the immigration authorities.

The plenary session of the National Assembly approved to summon the general deputy administrator of the Urban and Home Cleaning Authority (AAUD), Rafael Antonio Prado De Obaldía. The summons was set for next Monday, January 23, in the afternoon. Before the legislative chamber, Prado De Obaldía will have to answer 14 questions. In this sense, it must report the current status of the administrative concession held by the company Urbalia Panamá SA, regarding the management and operation of the sanitary landfill in Cerro Patacón; and if a request for an extension of the contract has been submitted. Likewise, the official will have to answer questions about the actions implemented by the AAUD to mitigate the existing problems in that sanitary landfill. What is the comprehensive solid waste management plan that AAUD maintains at the national level in relation to Law 276 of December 31, 2021, which currently regulates the matter? And what is the institution’s plan to concretely solve the garbage problem in the country? And other questions formulated for the deputy administrator of Aseo.

The President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo , signed Executive Decree No. 1 of January 16, 2023, through which a list of 132 medications from the Social Security Fund (CSS) is declared in critical shortage. This, so that purchases of medicines can be made through expedited mechanisms, it was reported. Drugs declared in critical shortage include antibiotics, antihistamines, antivirals, antifungals, conjugated estrogens, diuretics, HIV treatment, osteoporosis, and nasal decongestant. In turn, President Cortizo, together with the Minister of Health, Luis Francisco Sucre, signed Decree No. 2 of January 16, 2023, which regulates the National Medicines Observatory of Panama.  This observatory will be developed through a technological platform, managed by an executing unit within the Ministry of Health, in order to strengthen the supply system, traceability, and safety of medicines.Both decrees contain the recommendations suggested by the Technical Commission on Medicines, whose function is to find formulas that allow the population to have access to quality medicines at a lower price.

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