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Cablegate: Somolia Piracy: Panama "Prepared to Assume Case"

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHZP #1739/01 3082225
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 042225Z NOV 07

FM AMEMBASSY PANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1369
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 0259
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA IMMEDIATE 0081
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI IMMEDIATE 0026
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON IMMEDIATE 0004
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL IMMEDIATE 0201
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE IMMEDIATE 0016
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 0108
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CNO WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L PANAMA 001739

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/RSP, AF/RSA (J. BANDO), WHA/PPC, WHA/CEN (E.
TELLO)
NSC FOR JEFFRIES AND ZARATE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/04/2017
TAGS: KCRM KCSY PHSA PBTS PGOV PREL EWWT UN UNSC
IMO, PM, BM, SO, RP, JA, KN, KS, XA, XO
SUBJECT: SOMOLIA PIRACY: PANAMA "PREPARED TO ASSUME CASE"
OF GOLDEN NORI

REF: STATE 152276

Classified By: POLCOUNS Brian R. Naranjo. Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (U) This is an action request; see para 5.

-------
Summary
-------

2. (C) "Panama is prepared to assume the case" to prosecute
the alleged pirates who have seized the GOLDEN NORI off the
coast of Somalia, Public Ministry Secretary for International
Affairs Greta Marchovsky told POLCOUNS on November 4.
Following Ambassador's delivery of reftel demarche, First VP
and FM Samuel Lewis told Ambassador that he and the MFA were
in contact with Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez and the
Public Ministry: "The Attorney General is being cooperative,
and I have instructed the Foreign Ministry to lean forward"
to help resolve this matter. "There is no question that
prosecution of this alleged act of piracy would fall within
Panama's jurisdiction," MFA Legal Counselor Iana Quadri told
POLCOUNS. All GOP officials with whom Embassy officials
spoke, however, underscored that extensive USG assistance
would be essential to support Panama's ability to prosecute
effectively the perpetrators of these alleged acts of piracy
against the GOLDEN NORI. End summary.

---------------- ---------------------
First VP and FM: GOP to "Lean Forward"
---------------- ---------------------

3. (C) "I have instructed the Foreign Ministry to lean
forward" to help bring to justice the perpetrators of these
acts of piracy against the GOLDEN NORI, First VP and FM
Samuel Lewis told Ambassador on November 4. Lewis, who was
preparing to depart on an overseas tripon the afternoon of
November 4, also undertook to engage Panama's
quasi-independent Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez; "She is
being cooperative," Lewis informed Ambassador.

-------------------------- -------------------------
"Prepared to Assume Case;" "Panama Has Jurisdiction"
-------------------------- -------------------------

4. (C) "Panama is prepared to assume this case," Public
Ministry Secretary for International Affairs Greta Marchovsky
told POLCOUNS on November 4. After hearing the details of
the case and subsequently consulting with Attorney General
Gomez, Marchovsky noted, "It is imperative to act to preserve
the lives of the crew members aboard the GOLDEN NORI."
(Note: Panama's Public Ministry, essentially the national
prosecutor's office, is a quasi-independent institution in
Panama. The Attorney General heads the Public Ministry.) In
parallel consultations, MFA Legal Advisor Iana Quadri told
POLCOUNS, "There is no question that Panama has jurisdiction
since this act of piracy was committed against a
Panamanian-flagged ship." Both Marchovsky and Quadri
underscored that Panama would require extensive USG
assistance to prosecute effectively the perpetrators of these
acts of piracy, including, but not limited to assistance in:
facilitating the travel of Panamanian law enforcement
personnel to Somalia, transporting the suspects to Panama,
and acquiring and securing evidence.

--------------
Action Request
--------------

5. (C) MFA Legal Counselor Quadri has asked for a formal
diplomatic note requesting Panama's assistance in bringing
the persons apprehended for involvement in the piracy of the
GOLDEN NORI to justice by accepting custody of and
prosecuting any apprehended persons. Post recommends that

the diplomatic note provide an indication as to the extent of
any assistance and support that the USG can offer to help
ensure effective prosecution. Post requests guidance and
language for such a diplomatic note by OOB, Tuesday, November
6.

-------
Comment
-------

6. (C) Panama's rapid and positive response regarding its
willingness to prosecute the suspects in the acts of piracy
against the GOLDEN MORI underscores Panama's desire to strive
to be a strategic partner of the U.S. Though Panama is
presently celebrating its most important national days over a
long weekend -- equivalent to the 4th of July, Memorial Day,
and Veteran's Day all rolled into one -- Lewis, Gomez and
their lead advisors engaged immediately and all clearly
understood the importance of Panama acting decisively on this
matter. Post will need to coordinate extensively with the
GOP to determine the kinds, extent, and specifics of the
assistance that Panama will need to follow through on its
commitment to prosecute. That coordination can begin as soon
as OOB, Tuesday, November 6.
EATON

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