A hundred people sued the Panamanian state today for medical malpractice in the massive poisoning that took place more than a decade ago in Panama, caused by toxic syrup distributed by the country’s social insurance.
The 102 lawsuits were presented this Wednesday before the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of Panama by lawyer Víctor Orobio, who last February filed another hundred complaints in the same case, in which a compensation of 6 million dollars is requested for each victim.
“The good news for all those poisoned is that the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) has admitted dozens of lawsuits that in the next few days will be sent to the Attorney General’s Office, which is the institution that in the first instance can pronounce itself. This is excellent news,” acknowledged the lawyer in statements to journalists.
The poisoning, which was produced by a syrup with diethylene glycol, a highly poisonous substance that is used as an industrial refrigerant, was news around the world and is considered one of the most serious health accidents in the history of Panama.
The case took an unexpected turn last April when the CSJ revoked the acquittal of five people, including the former director of the state Social Security Fund (CSS) René Luciani, and sentenced them to 18 months in jail.
In the original ruling, which was issued in July 2016 and later invalidated by the highest court, only five of the nearly 30 accused were convicted, which caused great disappointment among the victims.
The story goes all the way back to 2003, when the CSS bought about 9,000 kilos of supposed pure glycerin from the Panamanian company Medicom, which in turn acquired the merchandise from the Spanish pharmaceutical company Rasfer Internacional S.A., which brought it from China.
With that supposed pure glycerin, the social security elaborated syrup for the flu that turned out not to be apt for the human consumption.
The health authorities distributed more than 200,000 bottles of “death syrup” throughout the country, but it was not until 2006 that the first cases of poisoning began to be identified.
According to the victims committee, so far nearly 800 deaths have been recognized and more than 1,300 affected, among which there are more than 250 children. ACAN-EFE