Wednesday 30th November 2022.
November 30, 2022
Ricardo Martinelli did not personally attend the preliminary hearing held this Tuesday, November 29, in which the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Organized Crime requested to prosecute the former president for alleged money laundering in the purchase of Editora Panamá América, SA , the case known as New Business . In his place came his lawyer Luis Eduardo Camacho González, who requested the definitive dismissal of the ex-president’s case because, according to him, all the funds used in the purchase of Epasa have a legal origin. Judge Baloisa Marquínez began the day at 9:05 am and denied the presentation of incidents to the defense, since -according to the judge- the hearing on Tuesday is a “continuity” of the one held on January 27 and 28 of 2022. On that occasion, Martinelli claimed to have criminal electoral jurisdiction and filed an appeal for annulment, which is why the judge suspended the process regarding his accusation, until this Tuesday. The hearing was broadcast live by the Judicial Branch and La Prensa .Prosecutor Uris Vargas began his speech by explaining how the purchase of Epasa was managed with millions of dollars of public funds, channeled through the New Business company. This money came from contracts granted to different companies and societies, for the execution of public works. The prosecutor specifically mentioned the contract for the construction of a new building for the National Assembly, awarded in 2010 to the company Constructora Corcione . Vargas explained how the money circulated through different accounts and companies, “to reach the same destination in a simulated way”, which in this case was the New Business company. Martinelli’s participation is accredited, according to the prosecutor, since it was proven that the former president: contacted contractors of the Panamanian State, contributed $11.4 million through the company Ricamar Financial Company Inc., ordered the first payment of $5 million for the purchase of Epasa and integrated the sum of $10 million obtained through a loan from Global Bank to the real estate company TPA, SALikewise, reference was made to the testimonies of David Ochi, Felipe Virzi, Samuel Jiménez and Riccardo Francolini, in which it is stated that “fictitious contracts” were drawn up, to give an appearance of legality to the entire operation.The prosecutor cited a statement by the lawyer Ricardo Chanis, who for a time presided over Epasa, in which he certifies that 60% of the company’s shares are under the control of Martinelli. The remaining 40% was held by Henry Mizrachi Cohen , who – according to the Public Ministry- transferred some shares to the Panamanian State, when he found out about the investigation for alleged money laundering. However, it is Martinelli who exercises “final control of these actions.” The prosecution finished their arguments at 9:57 am and it was the turn of the defense, for which they had up to an hour (the same as prosecutor Vargas). The first thing Camacho asked for was to intervene from his position and not from the podium. The second thing was to promote an incident so that he was granted more time. The judge denied the request. Camacho began his presentation by saying that the file is a “fable”, that his client is prosecuted for “political motivations” and that the investigation was carried out based on “bochinches”. He also insisted that his defendant is “protected” by the principle of specialty set forth in the bilateral extradition treaty between Panama and the United States and that he enjoys immunity as a member of Parlacen (although he himself resigned from that body in July 2018), although all this has already been disqualified by different judicial instances.
A group of pre-candidates for positions of popular election through free application appeared at the headquarters of the Electoral Tribunal (TE) , to demand the reactivation of the permits of those suspended activists to collect electronic signatures. The pre-candidates have also requested to convene the body of electoral delegates, “in order to stop the crude clientelism that is observed,” according to a joint statement, which was read by Samantha Acrich , a candidate for a seat in the 8th circuit -3. “We have been affected by a series of abuses, improvisations, irregularities and inconsistencies in the process of registering support signatures,” the pre-candidates remarked in their joint statement. The group also requested that the TE make public the “criteria and parameters” it uses to consider that a signature is voidable, “before the verification process begins.”
The 5,870 promotions ordered within the security groups that make up the Public Force implies that the number of commissioners and deputy commissioners now exceeds 300.The promotions were made public at the end of last week through the general orders of the day issued by the National Police (PN), the National Aeronaval Service (Senan), the National Border Service (Senafront) and the Institutional Protection Service (SPI). It must be considered that in December 2020 there were some 4,000 promotions, with which the PN alone already reported 286 commissioners and deputy commissioners who earn monthly income between $3,100 and $7,000. To that select club of the high command must now be added the 52 older ones who were promoted to deputy commissioners.In other words, the State would be spending an approximate amount of 1.5 million dollars monthly in the payment of at least 338 members of the high hierarchy of the Public Force.
The rights of migrants arriving in Panama will be guaranteed by the Ombudsman’s Office, assured Eduardo Leblanc, during the recent inauguration of the temporary migrant reception station in San Vicente, Metetí district, in the province of Darién. The Panamanian ombudsman explained to representatives of international humanitarian organizations the efforts and permanent work that the institution maintains to comply with providing the best conditions to migrants who take Panama as a transit country to travel to countries in the north of the continent.
The United States ambassador to Panama, Mari Carmen Aponte, affirmed this Monday, November 28, that “Panama is a strategic partner” in the fight against organized crime and in the humanitarian treatment regarding the issue of irregular migration.On this last topic, Aponte confirmed that she will soon visit the camps for irregular migrants that are installed in the province of Darién, in the company of the national director of Migration of Panama, Samira Gozaine.”We are working very closely with the Government of Panama, to meet the needs of migrants, in a safe, humane and orderly manner,” Aponte assured La Prensa , whilst attending the patriotic parades in the district of Boquete, Chiriquí. The ambassador added that on the issue of drug trafficking and organized crime there have been important interceptions and a record is being broken in this fight, she said, the US government is encouraged to continue working closely with the Panamanian government. This is the first visit of Ambassador Aponte to the interior of the country, since she arrived to occupy the highest position at the United States Embassy in Panama. She was invited by the mayor’s office and the Board of Patriotic Celebrations of Boquete.
The operations of the cargo train belonging to the company Panama Railway Company , which connects the provinces of Panama and Colón, was stopped at dawn on Tuesday, November 29, due to the collision with a sedan-type car. According to Miltón Mckay, Director of Operations of the Panama Railway Company, the company that has the concession to operate the railway, the event occurred due to an oversight of the driver of the sedan. “Traffic was already stopped and the car was left on top of the track and was hit by the train. The operation had to be stopped for more than an hour,” said Mckay.