Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli was returned to El Renacer prison today, after staying since Monday at a state hospital in the capital for a hypertensive crisis, which suffered hours after his extradition to Panama and learned that he will remain in detention.
Martinelli, 66, was transferred under strong security measures around 11:35 local time (16:35 GMT) this Thursday to El Renacer, a minimum security prison located on the outskirts of the capital, to which he entered handcuffed and walked escorted by security agents.
The former leader stands trial before the Supreme Court for illegal wiretapping affecting more than a hundred people during his term (2009-2014), involving 4 offenses punishable with up to 21 years in prison, according to the accusation of the prosecutor, magistrate Harry Díaz.
The perimeter fence of El Renacer prison, the same jail where former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega (1934-2017) was detained and where some of Martinelli's former employees are prosecuted for corruption, was covered by black nets in order to prevent the press from getting images of the interior.
Last Monday, Martinelli shouted from the detached house in the jail at reporters and claimed the "violation" of his rights and that he was a "political persecutor" of the current Panamanian president, Juan Carlos Varela, of whom he was a vice president.
This Thursday the transfer of Martinelli to the jail was not broadcast live on the television networks, focused on the inaugural game of the 2018 World Cup, unlike all the acts that have involved the president since early last Monday, when he left on a private flight from Miami (USA).
Carlos Carrillo, part of Martinelli's legal defense, told the press in the outskirts of El Renacer that he did not know details about the conditions of his client's transfer, which, he claimed, he could not see in a first attempt inside the jail.
Carillo said the defense will ensure that Martinelli receives adequate medical care for "health risks, such as heart disease, hypertension and arrhythmia," among others.
He recalled that the defense requested the change of precautionary measure for Martinelli because of his health condition, and that they are waiting for "the Court to set the hearing" to study that request.
Only the magistrates of the Supreme Court can decide the precautionary measures for Martinelli, since it is called to prosecute him as a deputy of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen).
The former president returned to jail after the presiding judge of wiretapping case, Jerónimo Mejía, held two hearings to hear from doctors about Martinelli’s state of health.
The United States Department of State approved the extradition of Martinelli under the specialty provision enshrined in a bilateral treaty in force since 1905, which means that the former president will only be tried in his country for the case of wiretapping, one of about 10 criminal cases that the Supreme Court has opened.
Martinelli was imprisoned for one year in a US federal prison because of the request for extradition, and plaintiffs complained Wednesday that his chronic health problems were not an impediment to his detention.