26 de Feb de 2020

Nacional

Face off over missing statues

PANAMA. Panama's crusading Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez has frequently shown that she is not afraid to challenge even those at or...

PANAMA. Panama's crusading Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez has frequently shown that she is not afraid to challenge even those at or near the pinnacles of power. Now she is facing off against the country's first lady, Vivian Fernandez de Torrijos, while the president, Martin Torrijos remains in the wings.

The confrontation is over the mystery bronze statues “Juegos de Antaño” valued at $1.5 million that disappeared from Parque Omar, where the First Lady has an office, and where Mingthoy Giro, a friend of the First Lady, holds sway.

It all started when the Public Ministry insisted on interrogating Mingthoy Giro, who runs the Parque Omar offices, seeking an explanation for the statues’ disappearance.

Gomez maintains that the Public Ministry has “a well-posed hypothesis” and formerly criticized the delay and quibbling on behalf of Parque Omar’s director, Mingthoy Giro, to avoid giving a sworn declaration.

The prosecutor’s office is not allowed under the law to investigate government officials. Instead they can submit a questionnaire for the official to answer instead of posing direct questions.

Giro attempted to do the same, creating her own questionnaire which she prepared to submit to Gomez’s office.

Gomez reminded her that this law does not apply to her,, and Giro was forced to offer sworn declarations on October 7, when she claimed she was innocent.

She also argued that the maintenance and administrative crew held keys to the Parque Omar deposit where the status were kept, implying that anyone could have easily gained access to the “Juegos de Antaño” statues.

The plot has recently thickened with news that the prosecutor will not be able to carry on the investigation for now because Giro enjoys temporary electoral protection, having run for a PRD delegate seat last March.

The prosecutor’s office could solicit the Electoral Tribunal to lift the electoral protection from Giro, but has not made declarations on future steps.

The first lady in the meantime continues to hold that the accusations against Giro—a personal friend of hers— are based on rumors and she remains “confident that the Public Ministry will hold a (proper) investigation.”