Spadafora recuses himself from case
PANAMA. After voting in favor of the Supreme Court’s third tribunal ruling that declared private the $5 million donated by Taiwan for t...
PANAMA. After voting in favor of the Supreme Court’s third tribunal ruling that declared private the $5 million donated by Taiwan for the Mar del Sur Foundation, Supreme Court judge Winston Spadafora declared himself unable to take part in a similar case, an accusation against Ruby Moscoso, former First Lady.
Moscoso, sister of former president Mireya Moscoso, has been accused of the alleged fraudulent use of another portion of the Taiwanese money, $13.7 million.
While the Court delves into the reasons behind Spadafora’s inability to rule on the case-- he was a member of Moscoso’s cabinet-- the question resounding in the judicial hallways is why Spadadora thought it appropriate to rule in the Mar del Sur case yet feels unable to do the same for Moscoso’s one.
The third tribunal of the Supreme Court ruled that the close to $60 million that the former government received from the Oriental partner is private money that the Court leaves outside of public scrutiny. Supreme Court judges Victor Benavides and Winston Spadafora voted in favor, while Adan Arjona abstained.
The Supreme Court’s decision ties the hands of the Comptroller’s Office, and above all, sets the stage for Ruby Moscoso’s case. She is being investigated for the mismanagement of funds donated by Taiwan for the Museum of the Toucan (now known as the Reina Torres de Arauz Anthropological Museum), to restore the National Theater in Casco Viejo, and the San Francisco de Neri church.
In fact, skirmishes have already started. The former Supreme Court judge Edgardo Molino Mola said he highly disagrees with the ruling. “I hope the Comptroller’s Office does not take this as a norm but as an exception, and continues with its work despite of this (the ruling on Fundacion Mar del Sur),” he said.
Can the case against Ruby Moscoso be dropped due to the court ruling on the private nature of the Taiwanese funds?
That will be for the Court to decide. There are nine judges, and as was the case of the “Fundacion Mar del Sur,” there could be discrepancies. The Court could decide that in Ruby’s case the funds were public.
“All of this money was donated by my country to Panama. There were no private personal donations here. Everything was from State to State,” David Hu then Taiwanese ambassador to Panama, said in 2004 when suspicions first arose on the mismanagement of funds by the First Lady’s Office for the construction of the Toucan Museum.
“Money to Panama, to Panama,” said the ambassador.
They seem unwilling to listen at the Supreme Court, as they deem the Taiwanese donations as private.