- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 20, 2005

Nicaraguan graft

Nicaragua’s ambassador in Washington is praising a decision by Panama to bring money-laundering charges against a former Nicaraguan president, who is in a power struggle with his country’s leader.

Ambassador Salvador Stadthagen said the charges against Arnoldo Aleman set a historical precedent in Central America, especially because of complaints of corruption and political chicanery against the top judges in Nicaragua — who two years ago freed Mr. Aleman from a 20-year sentence for money laundering and other official graft.

Nicaragua’s Supreme Court is stacked with justices appointed by the country’s former Marxist rulers of the Sandinista Party, who are aligned with Mr. Aleman in a power struggle against President Enrique Bolanos.

“Regardless of the ultimate outcome of the Panamanian case against ex-president Aleman, the fact remains that a history-making new precedent is now being set,” Mr. Stadthagen wrote in the Nicaraguan Embassy’s latest newsletter.

“For the first time in the history of Central America, the courts of one Central American country have brought action against the former president of another Central American country for allegedly bringing stolen government funds into the neighboring country.”

He also called the Panamanian decision a “step forward” in enforcing decisions made by the Organization of American States to “deny safe haven to corrupt officials and their assets.”

The first hearing on the case is scheduled for Wednesday in Panama City.

Meanwhile, members of the U.S. Congress last week held a hearing on the political and judicial scandals in Nicaragua.

“Nicaragua’s judicial corruption is becoming interlinked with drug trafficking,” said Rep. Jerry Weller, Illinois Republican and vice chairman of the House International Relations’ Western Hemisphere subcommittee.

He noted that Nicaraguan newspapers have reported that more than $600,000 confiscated from Colombian drug smugglers have disappeared from a bank account controlled by the Nicaragua Supreme Court. The United States has revoked the visas of three members of the court suspected of corruption.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


• Samer Abboud of Britain’s University of Exeter in Cornwall, John Measor of Canada’s University of Victoria, Christopher Parker of Belgium’s University of Ghent, Maya Rosenfeld of Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Joshua Stacher of Scotland’s University of St. Andrews. They participate in forums during the four-day meeting of the Middle East Studies Association of North America.


• Borislav Paravac, the Serbian representative on the three-member presidency of Bosnia- Herzegovina, and Sulejman Tihic, the Muslim member. They participate in a conference sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Peace on the 10th anniversary of the Dayton peace accords, which ended the war in Bosnia.

• Two Saudi political science professors: Saleh A. Al-Mani of King Saud University and Assad S. al-Shamlan of the Institute of Diplomatic Studies. They discuss political reform in Saudi Arabia in a forum sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

• Ruben Ever Cortina, international secretary of the Argentine Federation of Retail and Service Clerks. He discusses the recent Summit of the Americas in a forum hosted by the Economic Policy Institute and the Global Policy Network.

• Marta Lagos, director of Chile’s Latinobarometro Corp., who addresses guests of the Inter-American Dialogue on his polling firm’s latest survey of 19,000 Latin Americans in 18 countries.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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