- Panama Today
Defense lawyers representing President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), arrested in Panama for alleged wiretapping during his term, stressed that they have all the legal basis to demand that the former president stand trial in complete freedom.
"The restriction on his freedom, whatever it may be, will not change that we have (legal) grounds to consider that Mr. Martinelli must face the accusations made (against him) in freedom," said lawyer Carlos Carrillo coordinator of the former president’s defense team.
Carrillo added, however, that this will be decided by the Plenary Session of magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) in the public hearing to be held next Tuesday, to respond to requests for changes of precautionary measures in favor of Martinelli.
Even so, Carrillo “warned” that the professional criterion of all defense lawyers of the former president is that "his freedom should proceed in accordance with the Law."
The lawyer said in that sense that they have made several requests for a hearing, to review the precautionary measures against Ricardo Martinelli, which "does not imply in any way that we agree that his freedom is restricted".
There are four requests for a hearing on the violation of Martinelli's rights, one of them on Tuesday, and what is intended, according to Carrillo, is to be rendered admissible that same day by the Plenary of the Supreme Court of Justice.
Carrillo did not want to give details of the arguments to be used by the defense, since everything will be part of what will be discussed in said appearance before the Plenary of the CSJ.
The hearing before the plenary session of the Panamanian Supreme Court, to consider a request from the defense to change the preventive custody measure to a less severe measure, is part of the proceeding against the former president for the alleged commission of crime against the inviolability of secrecy and intimacy.
Sidney Sitton, of the defense team, told Efe this week that they seek to suspend the arrest, a claim questioned by the complainants, arguing that Martinelli's chronic health problems were not an impediment to his detention for a year in the USA, where he was extradited last Monday.
The prosecutor in the cause of wiretapping, Harry Díaz, asked the Supreme Court to set the date of an intermediate hearing to present the formal accusation against the former president for crimes against the inviolability of secrecy and the right to privacy, and against the public administration.
Regarding the request for an intermediate hearing, Carrillo said that Harry Díaz's actions "cannot be reviewed, until the appropriate procedural moment begins".
The lawyers also reiterated their complaints about the "constant" and "repeated" violations of Martinelli's right of defense, as well as the "irresponsible handling" of medical care for the former president, who was admitted to the Santo Tomás Hospital last Monday ( HST) for a hypertensive emergency after a hearing to notify his rights.
It was also said that Martinelli - who returned to the El Renacer prison in the outskirts of the capital on Thursday after more than 48 hours of hospitalization - has bruises on his body as a result of being transported on a stretcher in the HST by police.
The US Department of State approved the extradition of Martinelli under the specialty provision enshrined in a bilateral treaty, which means that he will only be judged by wiretapping punishable with up to 21 years in prison, according to the prosecution.
The Panamanian Supreme Court is called to prosecute Martinelli given his status as a deputy of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen).