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PANAMA: First Offender

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Panama’s National Assembly, sitting last week as the jury for a high state trial, by a vote of 45-8 found ex-President José Ramón Guizado, 55, guilty as an accomplice in the assassination of his predecessor, José Antonio (“Chichi”) Remón. The conviction was largely based on a confession by erratic Lawyer Rubén Miró, who admitted machine-gunning Remón at Panama’s race track (TIME, Jan. 24), and implicated Guizado, Remón’s Vice President. Panama will next prosecute Miró, and try to prove in the ordinary courts that he was the assassin.

Panamanian law, though it forbids the death penalty, provides a specially tough maximum sentence of 35 years for presidential assassins. But the Assembly gave Guizado, once a prominent, well-to-do contractor, only ten years. Then it knocked off a third of that sentence on motion of Deputy Demetrio Martínez, who pointed out earnestly that the crime was Guizado’s first offense.

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