In a clear demonstration of how the Panamanian Supreme Court of Justice is the biggest obstacle to reform in the country, Justice José Ayú Prado, who is in charge of the Financial Pacific insider trading case against former President Ricardo Martinelli, as refused to disqualify himself, notwithstanding a clear conflict of interest. Call for him to step down have been ignored by the justice, who is himself under investigation for corrupt activities, namely accepting bribes to fix cases.
Ayú Prado, who was appointed by Martinelli, was also the Attorney General of Panama when the Financial Pacific/Petaquilla Mining scandal broke, several years ago, and he failed to conduct an investigation into allegations of illegal activities, committed by Martinelli and many in his Cabinet. It is alleged that many millions of dollars in illegal profits were taken, at the expense of Canadian & American investors who bought the stock at inflated prices.
This case illustrates the problem; so long as Martinelli appointees remain on the court, also accused of bribery and corruption, Martinelli will not face justice in Panama. Should the Supreme Court bench be emptied by President Varela, and a complete roster of new justices be appointed ? It may be the only way to truly clean up corruption in Panama; Radical steps are necessary.