Anti-corruption prosecutors in the Republic of Panama have demanded that the former Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of Justice identify the individuals who paid him bribes to fix Supreme Court cases. Apparently, Alejandro Moncada Luna, who has already pled to a five year sentence for corruption, extorted large sums from parties to pending litigation, threatening them with adverse rulings if they did not pay him a bribe. Upon receipt of the bribes, Moncada arranged for decisions in certain cases to be delayed indefinitely, and in others he filed decisions that were contrary to the rule of law.
Moncada has reportedly, thus far, resisted naming the victims, and prosecutors have threatened to charge him with extortion if he fails to comply. Several of the individuals who were coerced into paying the bribes were US citizens, and it is alleged that there is a pending criminal investigation, for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, by American authorities.
There are two other Supreme Court judges who are under investigation by the same Panamanian anti-corruption unit that has charged former President Ricardo Martinelli, and fourteen of his ex-ministers on various corruption counts. Rumors from Panama indicate that the present reformist government intends to clean house at the Supreme Court of Justice, removing all the current judiciary, including both justices and magistrate judges. Whether that can be accomplished without the filing of criminal charges, against all of them, remains to be seen.
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