Wednesday 27th September 2023.

September 26, 2023


The long-awaited trial for Odebrecht bribery, where 36 people are accused (including former presidents Ricardo Martinelli and Juan Carlos Varela) of alleged money laundering, is about to be postponed, for the second time.

The reason is now that the Second Liquidation Court for Criminal Cases has not presented the list of admitted evidence (and other rejected ones), adduced by the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office and the defense lawyers.

Sources from the Public Ministry (MP) confirmed that, so far, the parties to the process have not been notified of the evidence order to be used in the trial and that, although it is issued on this Tuesday afternoon, it must be complied with. with the process of notifying the prosecutor’s office and all defense attorneys. Some advocates stressed that no one has been notified yet. It seems unlikely that the car will come out and, in a few hours, 36 defenders can be notified.

Additionally, said order could be appealed before the Superior Court for the Settlement of Criminal Cases , if any of the parties is dissatisfied with the decision adopted by criminal judge Baloisa Marquínez , on the admission or rejection of any testimonial, documentary or expert evidence.

It is unknown when the Odebrecht trial could be rescheduled, since Judge Marquínez’s court has a full calendar. For example, the trial of the Panama Papers case is scheduled to take place from November 13 to December 4, 2023 and, as an alternative date, January 15 to February 2, 2024 was chosen.

The Odebrecht trial was originally scheduled to take place from August 1 to 18, 2023. But on July 31 (that is, one day before the date scheduled to begin), the court announced its postponement, for the same reason: it was still Judge Marquínez was analyzing the evidence adduced by the prosecution and the defendants’ defenders.

The trial was then scheduled for its alternate date: from September 27 to October 17.

But it is September 26 and we are facing the same thing: the court has not issued the order to admit evidence.

Basilio González, Jaime Ford ‘s lawyer ; Carlos Carrillo, from the team of lawyers of former President Martinelli: Marcela Araúz, lawyer of Riccardo Francolini , and Arturo Sauri, lawyer of Dana Harrick , explained that in this scenario, the trial cannot be carried out, since it is necessary to know the evidence that was will present.

“The prosecutors found that the evidence, the money, and the witnesses were outside the national territory,” he said.

If anything is clear to the former attorney, it is that this trial “will mark a before and after” in Panamanian justice. “This trial will leave an indelible mark on our society. It will have a special chapter in the history of Panama, because never before has justice faced an investigation of such magnitude. Hence the importance of what is decided being in accordance with the law and that the only fear that exists is not acting that way,” she added.

The Panamanian Association of Business Executives (Apede) joined the voices that reject the proposals for reforms to the Electoral Code that have reached the National Assembly.

In a statement, the union recalled that during its more than 65 years it has promoted the democratic and institutional foundations that must be part of the actions of all Panamanians.

However, he stressed that today he sees “with great concern” that, less than nine months before the 2024 elections, there is an intention on the part of deputies of the National Assembly to reform the Electoral Code that will govern the next elections.

“The interest that has been promoted in the National Assembly with the proposals to modify the way of assigning deputies in multi-member circuits that are elected by remainder, as well as to strengthen the scope of the criminal electoral jurisdiction and to include a second round electoral tournament, are at this time inopportune and will create an atmosphere of uncertainty in the face of next year’s electoral tournament,” he highlighted.

“Every time an election is concluded, it is through the National Electoral Reform Commission, where political parties, universities, the working sector, businessmen and civil society participate, along with the Electoral Court, which is the body responsible for discuss possible reforms to the Electoral Code and present the reforms to the aforementioned Code for consideration by the National Assembly,” he added.

Recently, deputies from the Democratic Revolutionary Party and Democratic Change have presented three draft laws in which they propose changes in the allocation of seats by remainder and the process of acquisition and suspension of electoral criminal jurisdiction, as well as introducing the second round or ballot.

After completing the consultation phase, the Commerce Commission of the National Assembly will resume the discussion in the first debate of bill 1043 , on the new mining contract.

Roberto Ábrego , deputy of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and president of the Commerce Commission, reported today Tuesday that this Thursday, September 28, at 10:00 am, the debate on the document will resume.

In Ábrego’s words, they invited authorities from the Ministries of Environment, Health and Commerce and Industries . In addition, he said that other deputies who are not part of the commission may participate.

The parliamentarian’s statements come after on September 19 they will carry out a visit to the mining concession in Donoso, province of Colón. Previously, the deputies of the Commerce Commission held public consultations in the districts of Donoso and Omar Torrijos Herrera, in Colón, and La Pintada, in Coclé.

Ábrego has stated that once the consultation stage is over, the Trade Commission must responsibly evaluate the results of these consultations which, although they are not binding, added that they constitute a framework of reference for the debate.

For the second consecutive day, students from the Tomás Guardia school in La Chorrera (West Panama) took a walk in this district to demand that the authorities do justice in the case of a classmate who was allegedly sexually assaulted while participating in the Youth Assembly program. .

The students, who also demonstrated on Monday afternoon, left the campus after 8 in the morning, traveling along the Inter-American highway towards the La Espiga sector, in La Chorrera.

“Justice, enough of the abuse…” the students chanted in the middle of the route, carrying banners and balloons.

Likewise, the drivers of the school buses that provide service to students on campus also joined the protest by sounding the horns of the vehicles in a caravan along some roads in La Chorrera.

After passing by the headquarters of the La Chorrera Accusatory Penal System, the students headed to the headquarters of the Public Ministry.

It was reported that other educational establishments in the province of Panama Oeste and the capital city held a demonstration to show solidarity with the student from the Tomás Guardia school.

The National Police reported that investigations are being carried out after a homicide that occurred on Monday night in the 77th Street sector, San Francisco district.

According to the Police, the victim was a person of Asian origin.

Preliminary investigations indicate that two subjects arrived on a motorcycle to a commercial establishment in this sector and one of them entered the establishment and after ordering some products, he shot the merchant.

It was reported that operations are continuing to capture those responsible for the incident.

In addition, the motorcycle that was supposedly used in the incident was located in the Coco del Mar sector. The motorcycle had a license plate that did not correspond to it.

The Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) admitted a lawsuit for unconstitutionality of Law 315 of June 2022 that prohibits the use, import and marketing of electronic nicotine delivery systems, electronic cigarettes, vaporizers, tobacco heaters and other similar devices, with or without nicotine in Panama and dictates other provisions.

The legal action was presented by the Panama Smoking Harm Reduction Association , “since it violates the right to health, because the products and devices prohibited by this norm represent a significant risk reduction for adult smokers.” .

The lawsuit alleges that the legislative process of approval of the then bill, now Law 315 of June 30, 2022, violated constitutional provisions, due to the number of favorable votes of the deputies of the National Assembly in the approval In the third debate of the Project, it did not reach the minimum amount established in the National Constitution .

The lawsuit, filed on August 7, argues “that this Law 315 violates articles 109 and 110 of the Constitution of Panama, by not effectively ensuring the preservation and protection of the health of the Panamanian population, by prohibiting products that are demonstrably less harmful to addicted adult smokers and the people around them.”

The Ministry of Health (Minsa) was consulted about the demand for unconstitutionality of Law 315, which was regulated on June 13, 2022, but they reported that to date legal counsel and the National Tobacco Control Program are not aware of the legal appeal presented by the Panama Tobacco Harm Reduction Association.


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