Almost a quarter of a million spent by Supreme Court on travel expenses
In three and a half years the Supreme Court of Justice spent almost $244,997 on travelling expenses. Some overpass $50 thousand
The judges of the Supreme Court of Justice, in less than four years, have spent almost a quarter of a million dollars on travelling expenses, without giving up their salary and on occasions, don’t include the transfer and accommodation costs.
Although the law of the budget of the State leaves it very clear, with economic allocation tables for displacement inside and outside of the country, and even for geographical areas ($500 a day for the U.S and $600 for Europe), the quantities given don’t stop calling our attention.
These expenses don’t violate any law, but due to their frequency, in the case of some judges, they should be supervised and monitored by the citizens. Especially, because of the time spent away from their offices.
Between January 1st, 2012 and June 18th of last year, according to information given by the Supreme Court of Justice, the judge with the highest number of travels and quantity of resources give, both inside and outside the country, is Hernán De León, who was given a total of $56,862.
De León, according to the document from the Supreme Court which ‘La Estrella de Panamá’ had access to, made more than 50 training trips in the interior of the Republic and abroad. None were made on vacation or during licenses of that nature.
In the year 2014, of the 243 business days, De León was travelling for 105 days, which represents almost half of the year.
On 2012, he spent 40 days travelling; On 2013, 63 and so far in 2015, he has spent 33 days out of his office.
De León has left the country 16 times in the last four years. To Spain, he has travelled to on five occasions, all of which to take courses of different natures. Only in July of 2014, did he spend 15 days in Spain taking a course ‘Specializing in Constitutional Justice’ in the University of Salamanca, of which he was given $14,500 on travelling expenses. A year earlier, in October 2013, De León went to the same country for a week and took $9,800 with him.
LUIS RAMÓN FÁBREGA
Luis Ramón Fábrega was the second judge who was given the most money for travel expenses in the same period. In two trips made, one to Spain and the other to Qatar, he received $25,600 from the State. He travelled 127 days during his 888 working days. The crossings of this judge represent 15% of the absences in his working days. His total spending represents $55,871. He assisted to work trips in Herrera, Chiriqui, Veraguas and Los Santos, international conferences in the Dominican Republic and Qatar, on top of courses and interviews the the ambassador Paul Simons, in the United States, and internships in Spain.
THE THIRD ON THE LIST
The actual president of the highest office in the country, José Ayú Prado, is the third on the list of viatical settlements.
In the 645 working days (2013-15), he was absent for 143. This, on average, shows that he travelled for 23 days for every day in the last three years. In 2013, he was out of the country for 34 days total. On the following year (2014), he almost duplicated his outings to the interior of the country and abroad to 64 days. In the year 2015, he has been absent 44 days.
In total, Ayú Prado was given $56,806 on travelling expenses between 2013 and 2015.
He accepted invitations from the president of the judicial system of Peru, passing approvals of bilateral treaties about mutual assistance on criminal matters in France, even internships on Spain and congresses in Qatar.
Ironically, while some overpass the $50 thousand on travel expenses, there was one who didn’t take a cent. This is an isolated case from the rest of the judges. It’s about Harley Mitchell, who will be replaced this year in the Supreme Court of Justice.
Mitchell doesn’t appear on any the list this newspaper had access to.
The judge Víctor Benavides, who quit his post this month due to accusations of unjustified enrichment, received a little more than three thousand dollars. Harry Díaz, judge of the Criminal Division, went on three trips: on three last year and one this year. He was given $3,535.
The judges Oydén Ortega and Jerónimo Mejía were assigned $28,948 and $30,830, respectively (202-15).
Lastly, Abel Zamorano, for now the replacement of the judge Moncada Luna, received $16,200 on travelling expenses for eleven trips abroad.
About this topic, a statement from the SCJ indicates that the majority of invitations received by the judges, the sponsoring entity assumes total or partial responsibility for the expenses of the guest. In this case, the budget law contemplates a difference of 30% of the expenses offered for the official missions.
The Budget Law of the State of 2015 contemplates when it is travelled on an official mission inside of the national territory. Travelling expenses will be recognized for up to $100 daily on meals and stay.
In the cases of that it is necessary to send an official out of the country, the specified amount for each region are: Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania are $600 daily; United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Chile are $500 daily. For Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and the rest of Latin America the travelling expenses given reach $400 a day. However, the law doesn’t specify if the amount of money given includes money for accommodations.
According to the Budget Law, the objective of the trip should be specified, the results of the mission and the total cost.
THE MOST EXPENSIVE TRIPS
Between 2012 and June 2015, these were the most expensive trips.
- 14,700 dollars spent by Hernán De León in Spain for 19 days.
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