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Panamanian prosecutor’s statements spoils case against Martinelli

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  • Wed, 08/15/2018 - 17:08
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Panamanian Attorney General Kenia Porcell, appeared before a public prosecutor's office today to testify about an alleged blackmail scheme she revealed on Monday and that is aimed at nullifying the trial against former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) for alleged political espionage.

"I have told almost everything (De León) told me, mainly when he reaffirmed me on several occasions he had been recorded and when he also told me the case was going be halted, the case was going to be annulled. I have appeared before the Prosecutor’s Office to report all these facts," Porcell told the media.

Porcell said late Monday in a video posted on the social networks of the Public Ministry that the president of the Supreme Court, Hernán De León, told him in a private meeting on July 30 the case against Martinelli for wiretapping hundreds of people during his administration" is going to be annulled, we are going to halt it".

 

At that meeting, according to Porcell, Judge De León also told her he had been a victim of wiretapping and hinted this illegal fact was being used to blackmail him and influence the trial against Martinelli.

The prosecutor also said while she was leaving the Metropolitan Prosecutor's Office the magistrate of the Supreme Court, who yesterday denied pressures, is "responsible" for reporting the situation and asked him to "repeat and publicly say what he told me in my office".

The prosecutor’s statements have caused a political uproar in Panama and have blurred the already complicated trial for illegal wiretapping against former President Martinelli, who today denied to be behind the alleged pressure on judge De León.

"It is absolutely false, I have nothing to do with the situation between the prosecutor and the president in charge of the Supreme Court of Justice," the former president said in a letter read by his lawyers at a press conference.

Martinelli's defense, who is under preventive detention since last June when he was extradited to Panama from the United States, accused the prosecutor of trying to push the Supreme Court not to refer the case to the ordinary courts, as his lawyers have requested on several occasions.

The case against Martinelli, a 66-year-old billionaire businessman with at least another ten pending cases for corruption, is filed with the Supreme Court because when the prosecutor, Harry Díaz, filed the accusation against him in October 2015, the former president was still a deputy of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen).

The victims of the alleged wiretapping consider, however, that Martinelli is behind the blackmail against Judge De León because the annulment of the case just suits him.

President Juan Carlos Varela also referred to the scandal, and called the prosecutor’s confessions "worrisome" and "serious" and urged the society "to be vigilant about the actions of the judicial system."

Different social organizations demonstrated early this Tuesday at the gates of the highest court to demand greater explanations on the prosecutor’s statements, the resignation of the magistrate and the creation of a high-level commission against impunity.

The National Bar Association of Panama, one of the most important unions in the country, said in a harsh statement the actions of both the attorney general and the magistrate of the Supreme Court, which holds the interim presidency of the court, "worsen the institutional crisis faced by the administration of justice, especially when they are in charge of directing, correcting and improving the Panamanian judicial system." EFE

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