Panamanian Supreme Court will review former servicewoman's conviction for massive poisoning

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  • Tue, 05/15/2018 - 13:19
Jarabe de la Muerte
  • EFE

The Panamanian Supreme Court will hold a hearing on May 29 to review the sentence of 12 months in prison against the former social security purchasing official for a case of massive poisoning that occurred more than a decade ago in Panama.

The Judicial Branch explained in a statement that the hearing will take place in the Second Criminal Chamber of the highest court at 14.00 local time (19.00 GMT) and will be held at the request of the defense of the former Supply Director of the Social Security Fund (CSS), Martha Cristelly Sánchez.

Sanchez was convicted in the first instance in July 2016 for a crime against public health to 12 months in prison and disqualification for her responsibility as former head of purchases of the Panamanian social security in the distribution more than a decade ago of a syrup contaminated with diethylene glycol, a highly poisonous substance that is used as an industrial refrigerant.

The penalty against the former staff was ratified in April last year by the Second Criminal Chamber, the same statement said.

The poisoning went around the world and is considered one of the most serious health accidents in the history of Panama.

In recent months, more than two hundred people have sued the Panamanian State for alleged medical malpractice.

The case took an unexpected turn in April last year when the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) revoked the acquittal of five people, including the former director of social insurance Rene Luciani, and sentenced them to 18 months in jail.

In the original sentence, which was issued in July 2016 by a court and later invalidated by the highest court, only five of the nearly 30 defendants were convicted, which caused great disappointment among the victims.

The story goes back to 2003, when the CSS bought about 9,000 kilos of alleged 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, Social Security elaborated a syrup for the flu, which turned out not to be apt for 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 committee of victims, so far nearly 800 deaths and more than 1,300 affected, among which there are more than 250 children, have been recognized.


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