- EFE - Archivo
After the opening of an investigation against former President Ricardo Martinelli, a new trial is appearing on the politician's horizon for an alleged bribe in the purchase of modular prisons, including names such as José Raúl Mulino, Roxana Méndez, Adolfo "Chichi" de Obarrio, Alejandro Garúz and Juan Carlos Varela, current president of Panama and former vice president of the accused, as well as foreign minister at that time.
This investigation appeared after a journalistic work undertaken in Panama through Radio Panama, which appears as a subsidiary of the Spanish Cadena Ser. A correspondent of this Iberian media in Rome, Joan Solés, reported on the possibility to call Martinelli to testify in Naples for this case, which also involved Karen de Gracia, former partner of Walter Lavitola, former representative of Silvio Berlusconi for his business in canal lands.
After resuming the case last Tuesday, it was known that both Martinelli and Varela would be called to testify. In this case, the Panamanian Government set a position as a third party involved or a civil party; however, upon decision of Varela, the government withdrew from the legal process, according to lawyer Darío Romano. The next hearing is expected to take place on January 24, 2019.
This proceeding began in May 2017, when a preliminary hearing was set to determine the guilt or innocence of Lavitola in the diversion of funds for the failed construction of the prisons. Now, according to the regulations signed between Panama and Italy, the witnesses must be summoned by international petition, in a process where in the first instance, Martinelli's appearance is doubtful due to his current arrest because of the trial opened in Varela's Government and that, up to now, it has not been defined due to lack of magistrate to renew and clarify some details.