18/12/2012 - The Cabinet Council today nominated Attorney General José Ayú Prado as the new judge of the Supreme Court, replacing Anibal Salas whose term expires on Dec. 31.
At the same meeting, the Cabinet agreed to appoint legal advisor to the presidency, Ana Isabel Belfon, as the new attorney general. It also nominated Gabriel Fernández as the surrogate judge. At present, Fernández is surrogate of the outgoing justice.
TOPICS OF EXTRAORDINARY SESSIONS
The National Assembly will have an extraordinary session from Dec. 19 to 26.
The session was called to ratify the nominations approved today by the council. The Assembly will also appoint a member to the Social Security Board, the Superintendency of the Stock Market Board, general administrator of national environmental authority Anam and a alternate judge of the administrative tax court.
The Assembly will also discuss the draft law for a national plan on food security.
PROFILE OF THE CHOSEN
Ayú Prado has 27 consecutive years of working in the Public Ministry, and has spent the last year as the attorney general.
His term in office has been marked by several high profile cases in which allegations of corruption by high profile officials have been shelved. Some of these cases have been dismissed due to inconsistencies in the investigations made by the public prosecutors.
As an example, the case against former Land Administrator Anabelle Villamonte for granting land titles in Juan Hombrón and Paitilla has been processed in her favor by the Fifth Circuit Court judge.
Similarly, Ayú Prado sent this year to the Supreme Court a request for final acquittal on the dossier on alleged irregularities in the purchase of three farms for the construction of a hospital in Chilibre.
He also called for the case against former minister Demetrio Papadimitriu regarding land titles in Juan Hombrón to be dismissed due to lack of evidence. He also requested the summary executions of the cases involving the alleged payment of bribes to government officials on the purchase of equipment from Italian contractor Finmeccanica.
WHO IS ANA BELFON?
Ana Belfon Vejas, known as "the Iron Prosecutor," is currently the secretariat for Legal Affairs of the Presidency. A lawyer by profession, she began her career in government in the Public Ministry.
Between 1986 and 1989, under dictator Manuel A. Noriega, she was first top prosecutor of the judicial district of Panama, and between 1989 and 1990 was the third top prosecutor of the judicial district.
In 1994, she was legal adviser to Panama City Mayor Mayin Correa, and was involved in a high profile dispute with Vice Mayor Heriberto Martínez.
President Ricardo Martinelli said that the extraordinary session of the National Assembly will start tomorrow.
The session will be convened to ratify the magistrate who will replace Aníbal Salas, whose term on the Supreme Court will end Dec. 31.
The identity of the nominee has not been released. The Cabinet Council is expected to ratify the nominee at its meeting today.
Meanwhile, Martinelli met last night with government legislators and Tourism Minister Salomán Shamah. Legislators in attendance were Ricardo Valencia, Francisco Alemán, Carlos Afú, Héctor Aparicio, Raúl Hernández, Víctor Juliao and Abraham Martínez.
A reason for the meeting was not announced.
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