Teiga Castrellón • 13 Nov 2020 – 06:18 PM
The Judicial Branch of Panama published this afternoon a statement from the Presiding Magistrate of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), María Eugenia López Arias, which clarifies the situation and status of the known criminal case like Blue Apple.
The Organ, attending to the demands, ethical responsibility, accountability regarding the adequate and timely management and compliance, reports that in this criminal case there are 55 investigated, by the alleged Commission of Crimes against the Economic Order, against the Public Faith, against Collective Security and against Public Administration, to the detriment of the Panamanian State, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled, in the first instance, to take place from November 11 to December 18, 2020.
However, it explains that due to both external and specific circumstances of the processing required by the process, the execution of the schedule designed to carry out the aforementioned hearing act was materially and legally impossible, and therefore it was decided to reschedule the Preliminary Hearing act to that takes place from April 19 to May 28, 2021, with an alternate date that is located from August 5 to 25, 2021.
The Third Criminal Liquidation Court of the First Judicial Circuit of Panama, in order to promote the processing of the action, decided to reschedule this hearing for these dates taking into account the time it takes to fill out the notifications of these investigated.
The statement highlights that among the circumstances that were determining for the suspension of the hearing are:
- The global health situation generated by the presence of COVID-19, which caused, in our country, the suspension of judicial terms from March 16 to June 21, 2020.
- The writ of habeas corpus released by reason of the action brought in favor of one of the investigated, processed before the Second Superior Court of Justice between March and August 2020, which required the sending to that judicial seat of the 346 volumes that make up the procedural notebook.
- The absence of one (1) investigated “to date of unknown whereabouts” and of two (2) investigated, detained since July 6 of the current year in the Republic of Guatemala, and currently subject to an extradition process upon request of the United States of North America, which makes it necessary to advance the procedures for Summons and International Judicial Assistance for the notification and summons to the process of the aforementioned gentlemen, for which terms are required that, at least, reach 4 months.
- These procedures for Summons and International Judicial Assistance could not be carried out in a timely manner, given the suspension of terms, on the one hand, and the presentation of the habeas corpus action in favor of one of the investigated, on the other, which caused that the file was not physically in the court of the case, for an approximate period of 5 months.
The statement concludes by stating that criminal cases must be heard without undue delay, and that everyone has the right to a final judicial decision, issued in a reasonable time.
But, it also indicates that what is “Judges and Magistrates must act in the process with legality and security, which implies that they have the duty to safeguard and guarantee the integrity and sanity of the judicial process, adjusting to the norms of the Political Constitution and the International Treaties and Conventions ratified by the Republic of Panama, with observance of due process, in order to prevent invalidating and frustrating nullities of the proper administration of justice. This State Organ is not unaware that everyone has the right to access justice in the forms, terms and conditions determined by law “.