San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Panama Prosecutor Fired For Selling Seized Assets

PANAMA CITY (EFE) –Panamanian Attorney General AnaMatilde Gómez announced Monday thedismissal of the nation’s top anti-narcoticsprosecutor for the allegedly unlawful saleof cattle seized from a suspectedColombian drug trafficker.Prosecutor Rosendo Miranda wasaccused months ago by alleged drugdealer John Bryan Buitrago of havingsold some 40 head of cattle confiscatedfrom the Colombian by authorities inPanama.Attorneys for Buitrago formallycharged Miranda with abuse of authority,forgery and graft.The dismissed prosecutor told thepress that his firing is “very incongruentand inconsistent” with the stated aim ofthe attorney general’s office to wage waron organized crime.Miranda maintains that the sale ofBuitrago’s cattle was legal and says theproceeds were duly deposited into anaccount belonging to the Prosecutor’sOffice.The attorney general said the investigationinto Miranda “is not a personalact,” adding that she launched the probein accord with a finding by the nation’sSupreme Court obliging her to do so.Criminal suspects, Gómez said, “arenot little babies; they know what they’remixed up in and that we’re here to fightcrime, but we have to respect proceduresand the rules of the game.“That’s why we’re evolving towardbuying our own fleet of vehicles. That’swhy we don’t want to use confiscated orseized assets,” the attorney general added,describing an effort “to effect a totalcleanup of the system.”Buitrago, for his part, remains underinvestigation in Panama for supposedlinks to drug trafficking, money launderingand the March 2004 beheadings offour Honduran nationals.

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