Blackmail at the judicial morgue
PANAMA. The conflict between the undertakers employees and the directive of the Forensic Medicine Institute IMEL (Instituto de Medicina...
PANAMA. The conflict between the undertakers employees and the directive of the Forensic Medicine Institute IMEL (Instituto de Medicina Legal) about the use of the Judicial Morgue premises, located in Ancon, has taken a new twist.
The undertakers were complaining that the civil servants were putting all kinds of obstacles before they released the bodies, which provoked a series of problems between the two parties. Also, the IMEL were returning the corpses to the relatives naked, causing a lot of distress.
Following the complaints of the undertakers an internal investigation took place, which found out that several judicial morgue employees were asking for bribes from funeral homes in exchange for expediting the process to release the bodies.
The IMEL director, José Vicente Pachard said that so far five morgue employees are facing disciplinary proceedings for blackmailing the funeral homes. Among those investigated are secretaries, autopsy and morgue assistants.
“These people took money from the relatives of the deceased and would assure them that they would expedite the process for the release of the bodies, because they had contacts among the IMEL hierarchy,” said Pachard.
“We have barred the entrance of these employees to the premises of the judicial morgue, because they were disrespecting the relatives of the deceased, they insulted other civil servants and they were arriving drunk to work,” added the director.
According to Pachard, during the previous administration two employees were fired for similar reasons, but the trend has continued even though steps have been taken to avoid corruption within IMEL.
The director said that ideally the 35 funeral homes that offer their services would have their own morgue, so they could give better services to their clients during their time of grief.
“The morgue is too small and cannot cope with the great quantity of fatalities due to trauma. This is happening because of the population growth and the increase of violence in the country,” said the director.
The IMEL general secretary, Gabriel Vega Yuil said that if the disciplinary hearings confirm that the civil servants were indeed asking for bribes, they will be dismissed. If they are at fault, the police will be called to start official investigations against them.