Wednesday 28th September 2022.

September 28, 2022

The twelfth day of the preliminary hearing of the Odebrecht case began with the statement of Cosme Moreno, defense attorney for Jaime Lasso, the former lobbyist and former member of the finance committee of the Panameñista Party, who assured that his client’s constitutional guarantees had been violated by being subjected to the phenomenon of double judging.Moreno asked Judge Baloísa Marquínez to declare null the accusation of alleged money laundering against Lasso, since his economic activities have been the subject of criminal investigation on two occasions. This argument is not new: Lasso has wielded it from the very moment he was called for questioning, five years ago. Next, it was the turn of Guillermina McDonald , Navin Mohan Bhakta ‘s lawyer , whom the prosecution links to the case for the acquisition of a black Airbus helicopter, registration linked to Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares . The prosecution learned of the existence of this helicopter thanks to the statement of Evelyn Vargas Reynaga , who was a lawyer for the children of former President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal (2009-2014). Vargas, Bhakta, Martinelli Berrocal and their two sons are charged and have been called to trial by the Public Ministry. Luis Eduardo Camacho González presented himself as a lawyer for Luis Enrique (Kike) and Ricardo Alberto (Rica) Martinelli Linares , who are currently serving a sentence in the United States for laundering at least $28 million in bribes from Odebrecht, through the US financial system. Both confessed to a New York judge that they committed the crime following their father’s orders. Despite these facts, Camacho González asked Judge Marquínez for a dismissal for them. He referred to the existing “debate” on whether the crime of international bribery is criminalized or not in Panama. For Camacho, it does exist and he cited several articles of the Penal Code that prove it. However, he maintains that his defendants cannot be prosecuted in Panama for the acts for which they were already convicted in the United States and that the prosecution’s accusation does not fit within the criminal type described in the code.Later it was up to Alma Cortés to present the arguments in favor of Importadora Ricamar and Linda Gesto . For both she requested a definitive dismissal. For the  company she also requested an incident of nullity due to lack of jurisdiction. She questioned that Importadora Ricamar is the only legal person accused of the crime of money laundering, within the present case and announced that she will file a prescription appeal of the criminal action, since the same term of prescription than to a natural person, since -according to her- it does not have a specific criminal type. Former prosecutor Ana Belfon appeared before Judge Marquínez, as a lawyer for María Bagatelas de Papadimitriu , mother of former Minister of the Presidency, Demetrio Jimmy Papadimitriu . Both are indicted. Belfon pointed out that there are forensic exams that certify that her client does not have the physical, emotional and legal capacity to appear in this case. She, too, was not aware of many things that happened with her societies, since in Greek culture it is customary for women to have “total dependence” on her husband. María Bagatela was widowed in 2015. According to Rabello’s statement, the father of former minister Jimmy Papadimitriu asked him for the money, which is the reason why the mother and son are now charged.

Bill 844, which sought to repeal Laws 122 of 2019 and 314 of 2022 that grant tourist incentives, did not pass the first debate. The proposal, promoted by the Executive, was rejected this Tuesday, September 27, with five votes against during its discussion in the first debate by the Trade and Economic Affairs Commission of the National Assembly . In this way, the deputies save these incentives. On August 1, the Minister of Commerce, Federico Alfaro, took this project to the Assembly. This, after President Laurentino Cortizo made the promise to repeal the controversial incentives in a press conference in Penonomé last July, when there were strong protests and a strike. In a phase of public hearings in the month of August, several deputies of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) were in opposition to the Executive’s plans.

The hearing in which it will be decided whether or not to endorse the expulsion and revocation of the mandate against 15 dissident deputies from the Cambio Democrático (CD) party began at 9:00 am on Tuesday, September 27, as planned. This session takes place at the hearing venue of the Electoral Tribunal (TE) in Ancón. It is chaired by magistrates Heriberto Araúz, Alfredo Juncá and Eduardo Valdés Escoffery. The prosecuted deputies were present, arriving before the hearing began. Two weeks ago, the opinion of the electoral prosecutor Dilio Arcia was released on the subject. Arcia asked the plenary of the TE to annul and file the process of expulsion and revocation of mandate against 15 deputies. The board of directors of CD, -directed by Rómulo Roux-, ratified the decision of the Court of Honor and Discipline, which expelled the deputies and revoked their mandate for “treason” to the party. The dissidents contested before the TE. They are Yanibel Ábrego, Nelson Jackson, Mercedes Gálvez (alternate to Sergio Gálvez) and Hernán Delgado, Alaín Cedeño, Génesis Arjona, Fátima Agrazal, Arnulfo Díaz, Abelardo Antonío (alternate to Leopoldo Benedetti), Marylín Vallarino, Dalia Bernal, José María Herrera, Lilia Batista, Leopoldo Archibold and Mayín Correa. Throughout the morning the act focused on the intervention of the witnesses of the parties in conflict. For the Court of Honor and Discipline of CD, the lawyer Luis Cortés spoke, who explained the procedures they did in the middle of the process. He affirmed that the court “acted in law”, and recalled that the minutes of the Assembly of July 1, 2021 where the vote of the deputies in favor of the PRD Crispiano Adames for president of the Assembly is recorded, was key to the hearings of the process . He defended the process, and denied that it has political ends. While the witness of the 15 deputies was also a lawyer, Arturo Vallarino, who is also part of that court, on the contrary, he stated that the process has been irregular. In the audience are all 15 prosecuted deputies, some are accompanied by partners or relatives.

Deputies of the Budget Commission of the National Assembly lashed out on the night of Monday, September 26, against the Minister of Public Works, Rafael Sabonge, during the support of the budget of the portfolio he directs. In a session that began at around 7:30 pm and ended after midnight, the deputies questioned Sabonge’s management, especially due to the deterioration of the country’s main roads. Nearly 20 deputies signed up on the list to ask the minister questions, all related to his circuits, such as the construction of bridges, new streets and road maintenance. “Those of us who legislate and tour the country are not noticing the work,” said deputy Yanibel Ábrego. Representatives Nelson Jackson, Fátima Agrazal, Pedro Torres, Arquesio Arias, Maylin Vallarino, Manolo Ruiz, Everardo Concepción, Benicio Robinson, Cenobia Vargas, among others, also spoke. The recommended budget for the MOP for 2023 amounts to $1,205,916.5 million. Sabonge plans to attend the plenary session of the Assembly on Tuesday to answer a questionnaire approved by the deputies, who summoned him a week ago.

Copa Airlines reported that, due to the weather effects on the Tocumen International Airport this Tuesday, which caused air operations to be temporarily suspended for two hours, it was necessary to divert the aircraft arriving in Panama to alternate airports such as Panama Pacific and others in Colombia. Passengers who planned to board flights from the El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá to Panama and continue to Mexico, indicate that the itinerary was rescheduled for this Tuesday afternoon. “Since approximately 8:45 a.m. when the Tocumen International Airport opened the runway again, we resumed our operations. Due to this situation, our flights have suffered significant delays and some cancellations,” the company said in a statement. They maintain that they are working to normalize operations and to solve the situation they have decided to offer flexibility to those passengers whose itineraries were affected by this bad weather situation. “We offer the possibility of making date changes without penalty by contacting the Reservation Center or your travel agency, in accordance with the conditions detailed below: – Passengers with tickets issued until September 27, 2022 and with original flight date from September 26 to September 30, 2022. The deadline to make changes to the flights is September 29, 2022, and the new itinerary must start before October 7, 2022.

The branch of the Savings Bank in front of Villa Lucre, district of San Miguelito, was robbed on the morning of this Tuesday. The entity confirmed the theft. “There are no injuries, no physical damage to collaborators or customers,” the Savings Bank said in a message on its Twitter account. This headquarters is located in Plaza Galápago, just in front of Domingo Díaz Avenue, in the district of Juan Díaz. According to the first investigations, the criminals escaped in a mouse gray Kia Río brand vehicle. The thieves abandoned the sedan vehicle in one of the internal streets of the Santa Clara neighborhood, Juan Díaz. Then they got into a Tucson van, white with a black roof.

More articles