Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli faces a new trial for political espionage

Published by: MRT

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El expresidente panameño Ricardo Martinelli enfrenta un nuevo juicio por espionaje político

With a month delay, this Wednesday a new trial began against the former president of Panama Ricardo Martinelli for telephone espionage against opponents and journalists, known as the ‘Pinchazos Case’.

The former president, who ruled Panama between 2009 and 2014, arrived at the offices of the First Judicial District, in the Panamanian capital, and walked with a walker (orthopedic support) from the vehicle that transported him to the interior of the building, escorted by several deputies .

“I should be there working instead of (being) attending a political trial that has already been tried, I have not been charged, it is already prescribed, however, politically they want to make a mockery of this“, Martinelli told the press upon his arrival, where he also described the process against him as “a political bullshit”.

The former president is accused of intercepting the telecommunications of some 150 people, including opposition politicians and allies, journalists and businessmen. In August 2019, he was declared “not guilty” in this case, however, in November 2020, the decision was declared void by an appeals court.

Now, in the new trial, Martinelli, 69, is charged with two crimes: interception of telecommunications and monitoring, persecution and surveillance without judicial authorization. The Prosecutor’s Office asks for the maximum penalty, 8 years in prison.

Trial previously postponed

The trial starts a month after the scheduled date, due to two suspensions due to the absence of Martinelli, whose lawyers alleged health reasons, because the ex-president underwent spinal surgery.

This Wednesday, the defense was looking for a new postponement. The lawyer Jessica Canto, who is part of Martinelli’s legal team, reported that the former president is taking very strong pain medications, which can make him drowsy, so the doctor has recommended complete rest. Likewise, it alleged that a neurosurgeon gave the former president a medical disability, for the third time, which is valid until August 20, reviewed The Press.

However, the judges determined that Martinelli could follow the trial virtually, from their residence, in accordance with the provisions of the Penal Code.

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