Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Saturday, October 18, 2014

PANAMA'S FORMER CHIEF OF SUPREME COURT OF JUSTICE FLEES TO AVOID PROSECUTION FOR CORRUPTION


Moncada Luna and his wife, María del Pilar Fernández de Moncada Luna
The Attorney General's Office of Panama has advised that it is unable to locate Magistrate Judge Alejandro Moncada Luna, who is the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Justice, the highest court in Panama, and who has been charged with corruption. The National Police have been unable to locate Moncada, and are seeking the help of the public in locating him. Moncada is believed to have fled the country; it is not known where he is hiding at this time.

The judge purchased multiple luxury condominium residences, for millions of dollars, though his take-home pay, monthly, after deductions, and including his expense allowance, is $7500, and his wife, María del Pilar Fernández, held only a nominal government position in former President Ricardo Martinelli's Office of the Presidency. In short, he has insufficient declared assets to make such large purchases.

Moncada claims that he "borrowed" $700,000 from a party whom he rendered a favorable ruling for, while sitting in the Supreme Court of Justice. Such arrangements are prohibited under Panamanian law; judges can only receive income from teaching and lecturing, and any business with a party who has a case before the Court is improper, unethical, and illegal. Even if this money was a legitimate transaction, he still cannot account for more than $4m in additional cash payments made, to purchase luxury condominium apartments in Panama.

 Corruption in the Panama Supreme Court is believed to be widespread, with justices allegedly accepting bribes to delay civil cases for years, denying plaintiffs the relief that they deserve, and for keeping criminal appeals in limbo, thus avoiding the onset of a term in prison for defendants who have been convicted in a lower court.


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