Third strike against political theft probe

Dark moves beneath the white suits
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PANAMA’S SUPREME COURT  has again  reinforced the oft repeated widespread belief that there is a non-aggression  pact between the Court   and the National Assembly.

On Monday, April 17, in a  unanimous vote, the Court dismissed, “for lack of adequate proof,” a criminal complaint filed against 13 deputies for alleged irregularities in the management of donations by the National Assembly.

It was the third  dismissal of  a complaint related to lawmakers plundering the public purse to line their own pockets.

Under Panama’s constitution, lawmakers’ alleged malfeasance has to be  dealt with by the Supreme Court .

Allegations against Supreme Court Justices are referred to the National  Assembly, where they are handled with the same lugubrious  enthusiasm as the court gives to complaints against the Assembly. Result: deadlock and impunity.

The Assembly has a bunch of outstanding complaints against senior magistrates, including their  leader Jose Ayu Prado, whose resignation President Juan Carlos Varela had once promised to demand … but that was before he sat in the presidential palace.

Those whi  fell in line to protect their protectors were:

Judges Efrén Tello (alternate to Luis Ramón Fábrega and rapporteur), José Ayú Prado, Hernán De León, Abel Zamorano, Oydén Ortega, Ángela Russo, Cecilio Cedalise, Luis Mario Carrasco (alternate of Jerónimo Mejía) and Wilfredo Sáenz (alternate of Harry Diaz)

The complaint was filed March 29 by lawyer Carlos Herrera Morán, representing Freddy Pittí and Juntos Decidimos.

“This makes it clear that there exists a non­aggression pact between both organs of the state,”

Said  Herrera Morán, a viewpoint widely echoed on Panama civil society.

This is the third complaint that the court has rejected regarding plundering by deputies,  highlighted by a month’s long  La Prensa investigation.

Between July 2014 and March 3, 2017, the Assembly managed $14 million in donations that, in some cases, were never  received by the official recipient’s, but circled back to the deputy who originated the donation.

It also awarded $68 million in contracts for professional services that were sometimes not carried out.

Earlier the court rejected a complaint filed by attorney Ernesto Cedeño against the president of the Assembly, Rubén De León; and another brought by the lawyer Alexis Sinclair against De León and the comptroller Federico Humbert.

All is calm in the corridors of power.

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