Spanish version

JUDICIAL AFFAIRS

Decision in wiretapping case criticized

A judge has decided to release Gustavo Pérez and Alejandro Garuz from prison and ordered them held under house arrest. They are charged with overseeing illegal surveillance during the government of Ricardo Martinelli.

Spanish version

Temas:

Representatives of civil society and victims of wiretaps conducted during the previous government repudiated the decision by 16th Criminal Court Judge Enrique Pérez to release former National Security Council officials Gustavo Pérez and Alejandro Garuz under house arrest.

Magaly Castillo, director of the Citizen's Alliance for Justice, described the decision as "disappointing" because the men allegedly violated the human rights of the victim.

Castillo said that society must remain vigilant of the decisions of the judges in the proceedings involving members of the last government.

Castillo also described the three-year sentences that the men are facing as "laughable."

Ramón Ricardo Arias, president of the Panama chapter of Transparency International, said that the criteria used to release the suspects is a "mystery" to him, and that violations of privacy are a very serious offense that should be treated as such.

Meanwhile, Roberto Troncoso, an expert on the subject of human rights, noted that society needs to be respectful of the judge's decision, but that these offenses are some of the most serious of human rights violations.

Pérez and Garuz are accused of overseeing a program to intercept the electronic communications of an estimated 150 people using surveillance equipment acquired from Israel.

The hearing involving the two men, as well as two other defendants who remain at large, began Monday and ended Wednesday.

Independent Deputy Ana Matilde Gómez said that judges have to base their decisions on evidence and not on what he or she feels is appropriate.

"What has to be respected is the evidence that exists on the record," she said. "What they want is not what counts, it is what is on the record."

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