Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Saturday, June 3, 2017

DUTY MAGISTRATES IN PANAMA DECLINE TO RULE ON PENDING HABEUS PETITIONS IN ODEBRECHT SCANDAL

Magistrate judges and their assignments
 The sitting Magistrate Judges of the Supreme Court of Justice yesterday failed to rule on the Habeus Corpus petitions pending since January, in the Odebrecht cases. Four of the conveniently missing magistrates sent substitutes (one did not, and was a no-show), but the en banc group still declined to rule.

This is not only a legal issue, but also a human rights matter; criminal defendants have an absolute right to have the legal sufficiency of the charges against them, in person, aided by counsel. The Panamanian magistrates were required to consider these matters, as an absolute priority. Why no decisions ? There is an abundance of evidence of payment of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks, by Odebrecht or its affiliates or associated companies.

Are the magistrates delaying justice because wealthy targets have paid them, directly or indirectly, to slow the cases down ? We cannot say, but if it eventually turns out that corruption was involved, perhaps Panama might want to make examples out of any magistrate who obstructs justice in the Odebrecht case, which is perhaps the most serious case, against Panamanian leaders, since Noriega.

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