A court sentenced two former senior government officials of former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), now in the jail, to four years in prison, accused of wiretapping politicians, magistrates, judges and journalists, among other victims, said today the Judicial Branch (JB).
These are Alejandro Garuz and Gustavo Pérez, who served as directors of the National Security Council (NSC) during the Martinelli Administration, to whom the Sixteenth Criminal Court sentenced to 4 years and one month in prison each for the crime against the inviolability of secrecy and right to privacy.
Garuz and Pérez were in charge of the NSC between 2012 and 2014. Pérez is also investigated for the alleged loss of equipment for espionage purchased from Israel for more than 13 million dollars, and in January 2015 he was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months of prison for illegal possession of weapons.
The Sixteenth Criminal Judge, Enrique Pérez, imposed as an accessory penalty the disqualification for the exercise of public functions for the same term, once the main sanction has been served.
The judge indicated that Pérez and Garuz offered a cooperation "without which the criminal acts, object of the present criminal investigation, could not have been carried out", said a statement from the JB.
The "direct and willful" participation of the accused was proved, points out the ruling, which is not yet firm when it is in the notification phase to the parties.
The ruling indicates that the defendants have the right to have their time in pretrial detention computed in their favor.
Judge Pérez ordered the certify (collation) of copies to Jaime Agrazal, who retracted during the hearing of the statements made in the investigation phase, to investigate the alleged violation of legal provisions of the Penal Code.
This criminal case known as "punctures" began with the declaration of a protected complainant (Agrazal), made to the Auxiliary Prosecutor's Office on July 29, 2014.
This complainant, according to the ruling, stated that a well-known person informed him that in the NSC building they were carried out by means of interceptions of telephone communications, emails, and other means of communication, "activities that violated constitutional rights, and the result was that the privacy of the people was violated, among them politicians, magistrates and judges, journalists and members of the Government".
Both defendants were given the maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, reduced by one sixth for having accepted the abbreviated process. They must remain in jail 4 years and one month each.
In this case, the subordinates of Garuz and Pérez, Ronny Ramiro Rodríguez and William Pitti, are also charged, they are missing and with arrest warrants.
However, the trial against Martinelli for allegedly ordering the interceptions was settled in the Supreme Court of Justice of Panama (SCJ), since the former president was a deputy of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) when he was formally charged in October 2015.
But the Supreme Court on Thursday notified the parties, in an edict, the decision taken by its plenary session of judges last month to decline its jurisdiction in the "punctures" case against Martinelli, for not holding his position as a deputy.
By means of this resolution adopted on December 6, all the magistrates granted an injunction presented by the defense against the decision of Judge of Guarantees Jerónimo Mejía as to maintain the competence of the case, revoking it.
The SCJ thus declined the jurisdiction of this criminal proceeding to the Court of Trials of the Accusatory Penal System (APS).