THE RANKS of high profile members of the Ricardo Martinelli administration detained in El Renacer prison charged with corruption, were further thinned on Thursday, December 28.
The former Minister of Economy and Finance Frank De Lima accused of accepting $7 million in bribes, is now free to walk the streets, barred only from leaving the country.
During a Supreme Court plenary session on Thursday, December 28, he was granted an appeal of habeas corpus replacing the preventive detention which had been imposed by the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office in the Odebrecht case.
Judicial sources informed La Prensa that the magistrates who voted in favor of change were: José Ayú Prado, Cecilio Cedalise, Efrén Tello, Oydén Ortega and Hernán De Leon. Jerónimo Mejía abstained, while his colleagues Harry Díaz, Ángela Russo and Abel Zamorano saved their votes.
At a November 9 public hearing in the Twelfth Criminal Court, André Rabello - Odebrecht's superintendent in Panama - confessed that De Lima received at least $7 million in "improper payments" from the bribery department of the construction The declaration is part of an effective collaboration agreement with the prosecution. Luiz Eduardo Da Rocha Soares, another Odebrecht executive, also identified De Lima as one of the beneficiaries of improper payments made by the firm.
In addition, two Panamanians -Olmedo Méndez Tribaldos and José Luis Saiz Villanueva- stated while under investigation that they received money from Odebrecht, on instructions from the ex-minister.
Frank De Lima is also under investigation for alleged irregularities in contracts for concessions granted at the Tocumen International Airport for which He was granted bail in October. However, he was still in El Renacer for the Odebrecht case.
Recently, it was announced that he is also being investigated for supposed embezzlement in the parking lots contract at Tocumen International.