(MENAFN – Newsroom Panama) The investigation phase of the five year long Odebrecht $100 million bribery case ended Wednesday, October 15 without the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office completing all the investigations allowing multiple suspects to dodge justice as the clock ran out.
For example, reports La Prensa, three women linked to the investigation during the reign of Ricardo Martinelli could not be questioned because they presented certificates of medical incapacity a tactic that Martinelli himself used in July to avoid appearing. Another person did not appear when called for questioning.
The case also closed without the Supreme Court deciding three guarantees. One was filed by former President Juan Carlos Varela, another by the Ecuadorian citizen Freddy Barco Vera, and the third was filed in November 2018 by Juan Carlos Espinosa’s lawyer.
There are also 40 appeals filed before the Twelfth Criminal Court, but after their liquidation, they must be resolved by the Third Settlement Court, led by Judge Baloisa Marquínez. This office must also resolve another 20 appeals processed by the Second Superior Court. The Judicial Code indicates that the prosecution will have an additional day for every 50 pages that the file contains to submit its l hearing and the investigation, until a few days ago, amounted to 1,150 volumes.
The team of prosecutors who must work on the indictments are Tania Sterling, Ruth Morcillo, Anilú Batista and Azucena Aizprúa. The last two joined the team last February after the arrival of the new attorney, Eduardo Ulloa. While Zuleyka Moore, who coordinated the case, was moved to a prosecution post in La Chorrera in May.
During the investigation, the prosecutors reached 11 effective collaboration agreements and penalties. At least 127 international assists were received.
The case began in 2015, after former comptroller Alvin Weeden denounced the payment of bribes from the construction company in Panama. However, it was on hiatus for several months and did not take flight until December 2016 when it became known, via the United States, that the construction company had paid bribes in various countries. In Panama alone, it was revealed at the time, it had distributed $59 million. The figure was small. In December 2018, the Public Ministry revealed that the company had paid more than $100 million in bribes.
The case began in 2015, after former comptroller Alvin Weeden denounced the payment of bribes from the construction company in Panama. However, it was on hiatus for several months, and did not take flight until December 2016 when it became known, via the United States, that the construction company had paid bribes in various countries. In Panama alone, it was revealed it had distributed $59 million. The figure was small. In December 2018, the Public Ministry reported that the company had paid more than $100 million in local bribes.
Slap in the face
Law professor , Miguel Antonio Bernal describes the investigation as a slap in the face for the Panamanian people. ‘The Public Ministry has been protecting, covering up and benefiting Odebrecht, its bribes for five years. “The bribes are embedded in the structure of the Panamanian state,” he said.
Political scientist Richard Morales maintains that it is a chain of complicity that involves traditional political parties, businessmen, banks, law firms, and construction companies. “In other countries they have been condemned,” he said.
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