Panama's corruption authority has advised that it is unable to proceed with an investigation of Magistrate Judge Victor Benavides, of the Supreme Court of Justice. Benavides' former chief of security disclosed this week that he deposited large sums of cash, at Benavides' direction, into the judges' accounts, and that he had personal knowledge that the money came from bribes paid by litigants who had cases before the high court.
There were also powerful allegations that Benavides had spent much of this bribe money entertaining very young men, and that he was deeply involved in Pedophilia. The news shocked many in Panama, and there have been calls for an immediate investigation, especially of the corruption charges.
Following the release of the incriminating information, Judge Benavides made multiple telephone calls, to the remaining judges on the Supreme Court, and to certain prominent members of the National Assembly, threatening to expose their corruption, if criminal charges are filed against him. Immediately after that, the corruption prosecutors announced that they would be delaying the initiation of an investigation into Judge Benavides' misconduct.
While there are, admittedly, major ongoing corruption investigations pending in both the PAN and Martinelli cases, observers of Panamanian politics are wondering aloud whether Benavides' threats have caused powerful forces in government to order prosecutors to call off any investigation of Judge Benavides. If so, Panama's new reform movement may be doomed, especially if sitting politicians fear their dark pasts will be exposed. Does reform have a chance in Panama ?