Eighteenth Criminal Court Judge Baloisa Marquínez who rejected two requests by the Public Prosecutor’s Office to have two high-profile cases declared “complex” so that the prosecution has time to follow the hidden money trails is now the target of severe criticism from civil society.
Carlos Lee, of the Citizens Alliance Pro Justice, said that this type of actions “generates the feeling of impunity”. In his view, the cases are “clearly complex “, and the fact that the judges deny such declarations is one of the major problems facing prosecutors
The cases merit sufficient time for the Public Ministry to complete the investigation and to define the levels of responsibility of the persons investigated, “he said. He said that: the interpretation that both the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Judicial Branch must resplve soon what is considered a complex
Roberto Troncoso, former president of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (Apede), said Judge Marquínez’s decision “encourages impunity” and awakens a feeling of victory among the investigated. Therefore, he stressed, many countries have decided to declare the non-applicability of the statute of limitations in corruption investigations in corruption cases
“What they are seeking [the judges] is that prosecutors declare the provisional dismissal, as has happened, “he said.
“I think they should give the Public Prosecutor’s Office the opportunity, because it is trying to demonstrate that there is a true will and intention to give an outcome that is consistent with the law … If you don’t give him that right or that positivity, you are going to continue encouraging t impunity, and we will be in a country where nobody knows what happened ” he said.
Freddy Pitti, of the Together We Decide Movement, considered the judge’s decision wrong
“High profile corruption cases are extremely complex. It is not the same as a of a common crime, like the robbery of a corner store or pharmacy, when we are speaking of cases where the Panamanian State was injured for millions of dollars and where political and business figures participated, “he said.
“It requires the commitment of the entire judicial administration to be able to go ahead with
these investigations and to know how the facts were given, the structure of corruption and how the money was lost, and who participated. ”
The judge rejected declaring as “complex” as the New Business case and money laundering in the loan granted by the Caja de Ahorros (CA) for the alleged construction of a convention center in Amador.
Judicial sources consulted explained that once the case was denied as complex, the prosecutor must complete the investigation in the six months required by law.