Panama rentals
   
News | Economy | Culture | Opinion | Lifestyle | Nature
Noticias | Opiniones | Alternativa con Miguel Antonio Bernal
Archive | Unclassified Ads | Home
Volume 17, Number 13
January 2, 2012
Learn Spanish Online with Habla Ya's Skype Spanish Lessons



news

Also in this section:
Martinelli tries to weather scandals and avoid cabinet changes
Election law changes, another stab at the Mining Code in January
"Conejando" in Panama: what big ears Colombia's exiled spy chief has
Main canal expansion contractor barely staves off bankruptcy --- for now
Noriega settles in at El Renacer, legal skirmishing begins
Martinelli gets his solid Supreme Court majority
Residents and interns on strike at David hospital
Vaclav Havel’s human rights legacy
The failure of the Durban climate talks
The ECB's high wire act
The Internet and Latin America: cyber-security issues
The China - Latin America summit in Lima
South America consolidates its role as an emerging power
South America and Cold War II
When Italian waste companies come here, red flags should pop up

Many things that used to be in a Panama News Briefs feature of the website have now migrated to our constantly updated Facebook page


A room with a view: the cell at El Renacer Penitentiary where Manuel Antonio Noriega is living these days. Photo by the Ministry of Government and Justice

Noriega settles in, his lawyers quietly prepare
by Eric Jackson

It would be expected that former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega would have a competent legal team, but also that a lot of Panamanian lawyers would not want to touch the case. The state of civics education here is low, and to the extent that people don't distinguish between a lawyer and his or her clients, defending someone notorious can be bad for business, let alone for a future in politics. For the most experienced lawyers, who practiced during the dictatorship, there would also be strong emotions that could get in the way of an attorney-client relationship. But Noriega's legal team is in place and at work. It is not, however, holding any press conferences. The lead attorney, at least on the face of it, is the former general's daughter, Lorena Noriega. Also on the team are Julio Berrío, who specializes in international law and has made such brief public statements as the Noriega defense has made (mostly that they have no comment at this time), Chiriqui general practice lawyer Gisela Vega and Ramón Arosemena, a partner in the Bella Vista firm of Arosemena, Ortega y Asociados.

The expected petition for Noriega to serve his prison terms under house arrest has not been made. The legal team has first concentrated on enforcing some conditions of treatment that France insisted upon as a condition of extraditing Noriega to Panama and gaining access to the files of cases in which the ex-strongman was tried in absentia and convicted.

The government intends, probably starting sometime in March, to bring Noriega to trial for the 1968 disappearance and presumed slaying in Chiriqui of Everett Clayton Kimble Guerra, a 21-year-old dual US-Panamanian citizen and former American soldier who joined a guerrilla band after the October 11, 1968 coup and disappeared that following December. That trial will take place in Chiriqui Superior Court and Gisela Vega has made some preliminary motions in that case.

Because the international corporate mainstream media --- particularly those not of the Spanish-speaking world --- do not generally cover Panama, Noriega's return to Panama has been treated as the biggest recent story in Panama even if most Panamanians do not appear to share this belief. Reaction has been subdued, with few expressions of sympathy for Noriega and not many more antagonistic opinions vented. As Noriega was returning to Panama, Dichter & Neira took a poll and found that 51.3 percent of those Panamanians surveyed opposed house arrest for the former dictator, as against 42.5 percent who favored it. A few activists complained that a relatively spacious cell of his own, the right to make phone calls and receive visitors and a visit from National Police director Gustavo Pérez were special privileges that the former dictator should not have. These didn't find much support among other activists who want to see Noriega punished for his crimes, as all prisoners have the right to visits and phone calls and inmates with special medical needs do get living situations adapted to those. Too much insistence in this case could lead to a worsening of prison conditions that most human rights activists already find atrocious, and it seems that even his victims are generally not so blinded by rage that they are demanding special harsh treatment.

Does Noriega need special living conditions? It seems that he does --- it is well known that while in prison in the United States he suffered a stroke --- but establishing that creates some ethical issues. One of the French conditions was that --- even though they never granted him that status --- Noriega should get certain of the protections legally mandated for prisoners of war, in particular protection against exhibition to satisfy public curiosity. Notwithstanding one complaint from President Martinelli, a number from various former civilista activists and a few from the press, Government and Justice Minister Roxana Méndez has protected Noriega from protesters and the press, starting with a false decoy caravan to distract attention during his transfer from Tocumen Airport to El Renacer, which is near Gamboa.

A few days later, however, Noriega underwent a battery of exams by prison doctor Jorge Yearwood, an internal medicine specialist. The physician's findings were published by the Ministry of Government and Justice and many of the news media here republished them. There wasn't much public discussion about the ethics of publishing somebody's medical records. Arguments can be made that people lose medical privacy when in prison, but this is not an opinion that's generally accepted in the medical profession. (La Prensa, moreover, wouldn't have much standing to rely on that argument, given that it also has a history of publishing the personal medical records of non-prisoners, which are clearly protected by doctor-patient privilege, without any patient authorization.) In any case, it has been shown to most people's satisfaction that Noriega has limited ability to walk and would need different living and toilet facilities than most prison inmates get. However, some civil society activists are calling for an independent medical examination in anticipation of a petition by Noriega to serve his time under house arrest.






    

Also in this section:
Martinelli tries to weather scandals and avoid cabinet changes
Election law changes, another stab at the Mining Code in January
"Conejando" in Panama: what big ears Colombia's exiled spy chief has
Main canal expansion contractor barely staves off bankruptcy --- for now
Noriega settles in at El Renacer, legal skirmishing begins
Martinelli gets his solid Supreme Court majority
Residents and interns on strike at David hospital
Vaclav Havel’s human rights legacy
The failure of the Durban climate talks
The ECB's high wire act
The Internet and Latin America: cyber-security issues
The China - Latin America summit in Lima
South America consolidates its role as an emerging power
South America and Cold War II
When Italian waste companies come here, red flags should pop up



© 2012 by Eric Jackson
All Rights Reserved - Todos Derechos Reservados
Individual contributors retain the rights to their articles or photos

email: editor@thepanamanews.com or

e_l_jackson_malo@yahoo.com or

thepanamanews@gmail.com

phone: (507) 6-632-6343

Mailing address:

Eric Jackson
att'n The Panama News
Apartado 0831-00927 Estafeta Paitilla
Panamá, República de Panamá

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thepanamanews