The Security Council of Panama denied today having pressured an ex-agent of the institution to indict former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) in a case of alleged political espionage, which keeps him in preventive detention and for which the Prosecutor's Office asks for 21 years in prison.
"It is false that the executive secretary of the National Security Council, Rolando López, and Jacinto Gómez, who served as undersecretary, insinuated people in this criminal proceeding to issue statements in favor or against persons linked to this case," said the institution.
The former security agent Jaime Agrazal retracted on Tuesday during his appearance as a witness in the trial of two former directors of the council, Alejandro Garúz and Gustavo Pérez, who allegedly followed Martinelli's orders and executed wiretaps to a hundred people when he was president.
Agrazal explained before the judge that the current secretary of the council, Rolando López, along with other senior officials of the current Administration, visited him in jail where he was serving a sentence for drug trafficking offense to offer money in exchange for testifying against the former president.
The institution, attached to the Ministry of the Presidency, said in a brief statement that "the investigations related to this case have been made by competent judicial authorities and not by the National Security Council."
"In this process the Security Council was a victim and therefore it was our obligation to become complainants pursuant to law," he added.
Martinelli's defense said on Wednesday that the retraction of the witness shows that the case is "manipulated" and that it is really a "political persecution" orchestrated by the current president of the country, Juan Carlos Varela, who was his political ally and his vice president.
The trial against Garúz and Pérez takes place in the ordinary courts, while the trial against Martinelli in the Supreme Court of Justice of Panama, since the former president was a deputy of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) when he was formally imputed in October 2015.
The defense of the former president, a 66-year-old billionaire businessman for whom the Prosecutor's Office is asking for 21 years in prison, seeks to have the wiretapping proceeding transferred to an ordinary court.
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 argues that since Martinelli was extradited under the specialty provision enshrined in a bilateral treaty on the matter, he can only be tried in Panama for the case for which he was surrendered which is the alleged illegal wiretapping.