Impunity replaces justice as drug network walks free

A Lamborghini was impounded when the case opened

1,777Views 1Comments Posted 04/10/2019


The October 2 ruling in the case of El Gallero (fighting cock) confirms a trend in high profile processes: which are increasingly inclined towards impunity writes Rodrigo Noriega in La Prensa

The trial court ruled out evidence that had already been validated in the previous stage of the process. In the photo, in a white shirt, the former mayor and now deputy of the Parlacen Eudocio 'Pany' Pérez, who was found not guilty along with the other 14 accused in the case

The trial court ruled out evidence that had already been validated in the previous stage of the process. In the photo, in a white shirt, the former mayor and now deputy of the Parlacen Eudocio 'Pany' Pérez, who was found not guilty along with the other 14 accused in the case. Agustín Herrera

On September 25, 2017, the Attorney General Kenia Porcell, announced to the country that a follow-up and intelligence operation called  El Gallero had resulted in the arrest of 11 people.

According to the official, this was a network that facilitated logistics for the Colombian narco-cartels of the Pacific, ensuring the transport of drugs through the provinces of Los Santos and Chiriquí.

Although Porcell did not identify one of the detainees by name, she did indicate that he was s mayor in the Azuero region.

Meanwhile, the secretary-general of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Pedro Miguel González, identified him as the first undersecretary of that group,  Eudocio Pany Pérez.

The high relations that existed between the PRD and the government of the then-president Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019) became more toxic since he wanted to give a political aspect to this investigation.

Two years after the investigation began, an Oral Trial Court issued its ruling: “This Wednesday, October 2, 2019, based on the sound criticism of the elements presented and excessive flaws ...”, says the Judicial Branch's statement which records another debacle for the Public Ministry in a high profile case in the accusatory criminal system.

The 15 defendants (the original 11 plus another 4) were declared "not guilty."

The arguments put forward by the Court of Oral Trial are similar to those of the court that declared former president Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) "not guilty" in the case of wiretapping.

The judges, Kathia Rodríguez Alvarado (president), Aldo Jhonson Gobern (rapporteur) and Marysol Osorio Leyton, argued that “transferred” evidence could not be admitted - those that come from another judicial process already concluded; They discarded 99 telecommunications interceptions and disqualified the experts and technicians who exposed the financial components of the case.

How are they going to disqualify and despise what is presented by the prosecution?

Recall that this investigation began in October 2016 and it was not until September 2017 when the arrests were made.

In the follow-up and intelligence work, National Police and officials collaborated, and risked their lives to confiscate the drug that passes through Panama.

The traceability protocol for funds and assets resulting from money laundering is approved among all entities of the research and financial analysis system.

That is, the expert opinions presented are the norm, those that are always used and for which the country has been recognized internationally.

But it turns out that the Trial Court knows more about this than the FATF, Interpol and the FBI together.

“At the communication hearing on the meaning of the ruling, this Trial Court stated that, among the elements presented by the Public Prosecutor's Office and that diminished the probative value, there was a wrong formulation of accusation, the illegality of telephone wiretaps, violation in the chain of custody, violation of the right to defense, use of facts and testimonies in cases already tried. ”

These statements of the court contrast very much with what their functions are. This is what makes the decision more worrying because it confirms a trend.

According to the Criminal Procedure Code, the Trial Court will only evacuate the evidence and hear the allegations of the parties. The evidence had already been filtered and approved by the guarantee judge, Carmelo Zambrano.

It is not possible for three judges to rule out the previous phases of the process. For example, the 99 interceptions (audios) were discarded because, according to the court, they had not been authorized by a guarantee judge. Can we really believe that the judge of guarantees who knew this case for months, did not heal it?

It is clear that if there were telephone interceptions, the Public Ministry and the other participating agencies would obtain the maximum authorization for their inquiries. It would be good if the Supreme Court of Justice clarified whether it was the Criminal Chamber that gave that authorization.

Otherwise, we would have another wiretapping, case in which prosecutor Markel Mora and all the agents of the security forces that participated in this component of the El Gallero operation would have to respond to justice for illegal interceptions.

The bizarre logic of the ruling would indicate that the Court is not competent to authorize interceptions, but that a judge of guarantees, of a much lower hierarchy, can do so.

Gone are the 2.1 tons of seized drugs, double-bottomed vehicles, weapons of war and the million dollars in cash found by the authorities.

We Panamanians have the question: do we deserve this justice? - Rodriguez Noriega LA PRENSA,Oct.4