16 former justice officials jailed after 8-year probe

 
1,121Views 0Comments Posted 13/05/2023

 

After an eight-year investigation, Panama judge  Fernando Basurto García declared 16 former judicial officials guilty of corruption of public servants.

Eight of those involved, who in 2015 when the case began, served as officials of the Second Superior Court of Justice, were sentenced to 72 months in prison (six years). While 10 people who were members of juries were sentenced to 45 months in jail (three years and seven months). The investigation by the prosecution revealed that some jurors were contacted by the judicial officials in charge of transferring them during the trials so that they favored a specific person involved. Two others were found "not guilty."

The mixed sentences were handed down on May 11. Previously, in a hearing held on March 30, another five involved accepted a sentence agreement, in which, four must pay a sentence of 40 months in jail (three years and three months) while another was sentenced to 60 months in prison (five years).

How it started
In mid-August 2015, the then-president of the Supreme Court José Ayú Prado received information that in the criminal circuit courts, in the Second Superior Criminal Court, and in the Office of Judicial Decongestion, allegedly bribes were charged to free people linked to criminal proceedings, and bribes to juries of conscience.

As part of the investigations, the Criminal Chamber of the CSJ authorized wiretapping, at the request of the Public Ministry. Telephone calls from judicial officials were followed up and evidence was collected.

Evidence was also obtained that an official in charge of scheduling hearings allegedly charged some lawyers money to advance or delay trial dates, depending on the need.

The scandal generated by the investigation forced the magistrates of the Second Court to establish greater control.