Troubles mount for ex-president as he makes promises to Israeli prisoner who was later murdered

Aug 10, 2020 | 4 comments

First, former president Abdalá Bucaram was charged in June with illegal possession of firearms. Then, prosecutors said they planned to file additional charges in a scam involving the over-charging of public hospitals for medical supplies. On Sunday, his case took on additional intrigue when an audio tape surfaced in which he told an Israeli prisoner that he would help get him released from prison.

Former president Abdalá Bucaram after he returned from a 20-year exile in Panama in 2017.

The Israeli, Tomer Sheinman, sentenced for the sale of illegal drugs, was murdered at a Guayaquil prison two days after the seven-minute tape was recorded.

Bucaram’s attorney, Cristian Romero, acknowledges that the voice on the tape is “probably” the former president’s but says he needs additional verification. Romero said that attempting to gain a prisoner’s release through legal channels is not a crime.

“We have a lot to sort out in this case,” a spokesman for the Guayaquil prosecutor’s office said Sunday night. “As we put the pieces together there will probably be more charges against Bucaram and others as well.”

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The spokesman said there are suspected connections between Bucaram, Sheinman and another Israeli prisoner. In the audio, Bucaram tells Sheinman that he will provide a lawyer who will file an appeal to overturn his conviction. “We are planning our strategy to get you out but it will not be through the original judge since he cannot be trusted,” Bucaram says.

In the tape, Sheinman tells Bucaram that he fears for his life and asks, “Do I have your word that no one will try to kill me?” Bucaram responds that his word is good and he will move quickly to gain Sheinman’s release.

Bucaram’s sons, Dalo and Michel, were arrested in June in the hospital fraud case.

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