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  • Panama's Former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), Panama, Nov. 21, 2020.

    Panama's Former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), Panama, Nov. 21, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @hiday_live

Published 23 November 2020
Opinion

Ricardo Martinelli, 68, was preventively detained for one year in El Renacer prison until 12 June 2019. He was then placed under house arrest, which was lifted on 9 August 2019.

Ruling a new trial, Panama's High Court of Appeal (HCA) annulled the sentence that in August 2019 declared "not guilty" the former president Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) of four crimes related to the "pinprick" case over espionage and embezzlement.

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The Public Ministry said that in the new trial Martinelli will face "the crimes of inviolability of secrecy and right to privacy" in which "over 150 victims are included."

HCA ruling stated that the trial court did not properly value the testimony of Ismael Pitti, who told in detail that at the National Security Council (NSC) headquarter, a group of agents operated whose only task was to carry out the monitoring of politicians, journalists, magistrates, union leaders, and businessmen who opposed Martinelli.

Lawyer Carlos Herrera Moran who represents victim Mauro Zuñiga noted that although the HCA ruling is not 100 percent satisfactory, at least it leaves hope that those responsible for the unauthorized wiretapping and monitoring that took place between 2012 and 2014 will be punished. 

Former President Martinelli was found "not guilty" of the crimes of intercepting telecommunications and surveillance without judicial authorization, embezzlement by theft, and embezzlement of use (3 years). For these acts, former directors of the CSN Alejandro Garuz and Gustavo Perez were sentenced to 60 months in prison.

Martinelli, 68, was preventively detained for one year in El Renacer prison until 12 June 2019. He was then placed under house arrest, which was lifted on 9 August 2019.

He noted that the case of the "pinprick" was the result of an alleged "political persecution" by former President Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019), who was his vice president and foreign minister amid corruption accusations. 

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