Candidates under investigation
PANAMA. In an unprecedented turn of events, the Electoral Tribunal has lifted the immunity of presidential candidates Balbina Herrera a...
PANAMA. In an unprecedented turn of events, the Electoral Tribunal has lifted the immunity of presidential candidates Balbina Herrera and Ricardo Martinelli, and the PRD candidate for Panama City’s Mayor’s Office, “Bobby” Velazquez.
The Public Ministry can now investigate the three candidates for their alleged ties to Colombian businessman David Murcia.
Transparency International’s Angelica Maytin and independent candidate for Panama City’s mayoral office, Miguel Antonio Bernal, showed their concern, calling for a speedy investigation to the series of events that raises concerns over the candidates’ qualifications to become president and mayor respectively.
Maytin believes “it is time to reform the Electoral Code to allow public access to the list of (political) donors.”
For Bernal, lifting the candidates’ immunity raises a high degree of uncertainty in the country.
His campaign committee has requested an in-depth and speedy investigation, asking civil groups to ask any candidate found guilty of having contact with Murcia to step down from running in the May elections.
But according to the former head of the Electoral Tribunal, Guillermo Marquez Briceño, “this is generally a long process, one that will surely last beyond the elections.” He believes it could be two to three years before a verdict is passed.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Government and Justice Dilio Garcia responded to allegations made in La Estrella on Friday that according to Fernando Aguilar, SPI (Institutional Protection Service) agent who had worked for Murcia, “Bobby” Velazquez and his father greeted Garcia at the Sheraton Hotel on their way to meet with the Colombian businessman.
According to Garcia, he was indeed at the Sheraton Hotel on October 27, 2008, attending a conference.
However, he claims he never met with Murcia: “I don’t accept any charges. I was never in a meeting with Murcia.”
He also said he cannot remember if he ran into the Velasquezes that day because he runs into them so often.