Temas Especiales

24 de Oct de 2020

Nacional

Ex-drug dealer runs city police

PANAMA. Panama City Mayor, Bosco Vallarino, who describes himself as an honest man, is once again under the spotlight, this time for hi...

PANAMA. Panama City Mayor, Bosco Vallarino, who describes himself as an honest man, is once again under the spotlight, this time for hiring an ex-drug dealer, Edgardo Reeder Gonzalez, to head the Municipal Police.

According to the radio station KW Continente, Gonzalez was sentenced in 2000 to nine years six months in jail. He also had his rights to stand for public office revoked.

On the radio show, “Hora Nueve“, Vallarino’s Administrative Manager, Jaime Barroso, initially denied that Gonzalez had been in jail, but then changed his story when he was presented with a copy of the sentence. Barroso then said that an appeal was underway to have the conviction annulled.

Vallarino defended Gonzalez’ appointment, saying that as a member of the Defense Forces and Interpol he had the necessary experience for the job.

Meanwhile, now that his special privileges have been suspended, Vallarino himself is being questioned by anti-corruption prosecutors about a $4,000 check that was issued by the town hall to pay for his wife to travel overseas last month. He is also being asked to explain a previous request to use public funds to pay for his wife’s travel to Colombia in July, which was also refused.

It is believed that former administrative director, Carlos Levy, who was fired by Vallarino shortly after it became known that the $4,000 cheque had been issued, will be called for questioning.

Levy says that he was fired because he couldn´t get Vallarino an open-topped car for his recent visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Meanwhile, it seems likely that Vallarino’s chief rival for the mayor’s office, PRD candidate Roberto “Bobby” Velasquez, will be cleared of all charges of accepting illegal donations towards his mayoralty campaign.

Velasquez was in the lead in the opinion polls until Colombian business man, David Murcia, who was jailed for money-laundering, said he had donated $3 million towards Velasquez’ campaign.

The specialist prosecutor against organised crime, who has been investigating the case since March, is recommending that the judicial courts pronounce a definitive stay of proceedings in favor of Velasquez due to lack of evidence.

After extensive investigations there is nothing to show that any crime was committed, attorney Jose Ayu Prado said.

He said that investigations into the allegations filled 13 files, and included witness statements, declarations and accounts of both Velasquez’ own electoral funds and those of his father, Roberto Velasquiz Arango audited by the Financial Unit of the National Security Council.

Arango was accused by Murcia’ s ex-bodyguards of receiving a suitcase from Murcia containing the $3 million donation. However, it appears that there is no evidence to show that the suitcase existed.

The bodyguards, who Murcia fired, were later reinstated in the Institutional Protection Service (SPI) after Martinelli came to power.

Velasquez always denied the charges but his ratings plummeted and ultimately Vallarino won the election in spite of another challenge when it was discovered that he held American citizenship.

Velasquez said that he will make an official complaint if the courts find that he committed no crime.