More plea bargains and citizen protests

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PANAMA’S Twelfth Criminal Court will hold a further approval hearing on Thursday morning November  16, this time to ratify a collaboration agreement agreed between the Special Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office and one of the local intermediaries that received bribes from the Odebrecht construction company.

The   hearing, before judge Óscar Carrasquillo will be in the same Supreme Court room where on November 9 he validated three agreements with executives of Odebrecht: André Rabello, Olivio Rodrigues Junior and Luiz Eduardo Da Rocha Soares, and  they and prosecutor Zuleyka Moore laid bare the structure of what she described as a criminal network headed by the  sons of ex-president Ricardo Martinelli to  distribute some $90 million among corrupted politicians and businessmen linked to their father.

Fingers were also pointed at  Martinelli appointee, former Attorney General Ana Belfon for shelving potentially embarrassing investigations of other favored appointees, the former Ambassador to S.Korea and his daughter a consul in Japan.

While it is unknown for now who the latest agreement relates to, the Public Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that it was negotiating agreements with José Luis Saiz and Jorge Espino. who have confessed to having received bribes that -according to the testimony of André Rabello- were going to former ministers. Saiz said he was contacted by the ex-minister of Economy and Finance, Frank De Lima to receive Odebrecht money in an account in Andorra, controlled by the former official. Espino confessed to the prosecutor’s office that he registered an account – also in Andorra – in which the construction company deposited money for Jaime Ford, former Minister of Public Works.

The prosecution has already approved a sentence agreement with Olmedo Méndez Tribaldos, another one “singing” about De Lima. Maybe it’s time for him to join the chorus to reduce the time he will get in El Reancer prison, which is short on gilded cages

Corruption protest
Another citizen rally backed by business organizations and civic groups protesting corruption and impunity is scheduled for Thursday afternoon

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