Beleaguered Attorney General Ana Matilde Gómez has struck back against moves to oust her from office.
With her lawyers, she has petitioned to have new Supreme Court Judge Jose Abel Almengor, removed from the case.
The lawyers have pointed out that last March Gomez opened a disciplinary procedure against Almengor who was then a drug prosecutor under Gomez.
The investigation was related Ernesto Chong Coronado, who was under house arrest in Panama accused of money laundering , in the case of DMG Group run by Colombian David Murcia Guzmán.
Chong skipped from his home to Miami to conduct “business” with Almengor, in charge of the case, apparently unaware of his disappearance.
Murcia was recently sentenced in Colombia to 31 years in prison. This week he was shipped to the United States to face trial on money laundering and drug related charges.
The disciplinary process was closed when Almengor resigned last May.
Soon afterwards, he appeared as adviser to the president, Ricardo Martinelli, who recently appointed him as a judge in the Supreme Court.
The appointment caused widespread criticism.
Antonio Tejada, former Ombudsman and now Gomez’s lawyer, has invoked paragraph 11 of Article 760 of the Judicial Code, which states that a ground of impeachment is “having a party process, complaint or suit pending or have had within the past two years.”
Tejada said that in the interests of “transparency” Almengor should remove himself from the case.
Supreme Court Judge Victor Benavides, will have to decide on the challenge presented by the layers of Gomez.
Anorder to remove Gomez from her position and to be barred from leaving the country, was made on January 5 by Nelson Rojas, Attorney General in charge of Administration.
Rojas was investigating a complaint lodged by the former prosecutor of La Chorrera Archimedes Sáez, who served under Gomez, was suspected of dealing in bribes, and was the subject of a sting operation including wire taps.
The Supreme Court ruled that the taps were illegal.
Gomez, Panama’s first woman Attorney General has received widespread support from many sections of the community including lawyers, civil rights groups and businessmen.
Ruben Castillo, president of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APED), said Ana Matilde Gomez, has the full support of the group, and should be free of interference from above.
“Ms. Gomez deserves respect and admiration for th eupright way as she has served.” Castillo said.