The Panamanian Supreme Court today began debating whether to grant a bail of release to former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), in preventive detention since last June for alleged political wiretapping.
"The hearing begins before the plenary session of the CSJ (Supreme Court of Justice) to grant the bail for release and de facto appeal filed by the defense in the case known as wiretapping," the Judicial Branch said on Twitter.
The defense of the former president, a 66-year-old billionaire businessman for whom the Prosecutor's Office asks for 21 years in prison for alleged wiretapping to a hundred people when he was president, seeks that the plenary session of the highest court changes the precautionary measure of preventive detention by house arrest, according to local media.
Martinelli's attorneys said last week that they will use the retraction of a witness who three years ago accused the former president in the plot of illegal wiretapping as an argument to support the request for bail of release. He now claims that he was pressured by the current administration.
The retraction of the former security agent Jaime Agrazal, according to Martinelli's defense, shows that the case is "manipulated" and that it is really a "political persecution" plotted by the current president of the country, Juan Carlos Varela, who was his ally and his vice president.
Martinelli's spokesman and former communications secretary, Luis Eduardo Camacho, announced on Sunday that he will sue for 120 million dollars to several government authorities for having built a "chimbo" (unfounded) process to incriminate the former president, among them members of the Ministry of Security and the country's attorney general, Kenya Porcell.
The plenary session of the Supreme Court and unanimously rejected on June 19 to grant a bail of release to Martinelli when it considered that the defense did not provide sufficient arguments.
The trial against Martinelli is held in the Supreme Court because he was a deputy of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) when he was formally charged in October 2015, although his defense seeks to have the case transferred to an ordinary court and alleges that the former president resigned last June to the regional as regional deputy.
Martinelli, who has other cases for corruption pending with the Panamanian justice, is being held in a jail on the shores of the Panama Canal since June 11, when he was extradited from the United States, after spending about a year in a federal prison in Miami.
His defense said he was extradited under a specialty provision included in a bilateral treaty between Panama and the United States and therefore he can only be tried in the Central American country for the case for which he was surrendered, the alleged illegal wiretapping.