Victims urge trial upon Martinelli’s arrival in Panama

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  • Sat, 06/09/2018 - 18:57
Ernesto Pérez Balladares
  • Ernesto Pérez Balladares
  • EFE

Alleged victims of illegal wiretapping during the Administration of Ricardo Martinelli urged the authorities that after Martinelli’s extradition from the United States to Panama he stands trial pursuant to law.

Former Panamanian President Ernesto Pérez Balladares (1994-1999), one of the victims of wiretapping, told Acan-Efe after Martinelli's extradition announcement that he was awaiting the news, and that it was only a matter of formalities to resolve the different appeals filed by the lawyers.

"Martinelli's defense withdrew the appeals, so it was clear that the original decision of extradition was going to be filed, and it was just a matter of the formality of the US Department. They lacked time, but they wanted to do it promptly and thus it has been done," said Pérez Balladares.

The member of the opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) stated that the former president and founder of the Cambio Democrático party, should never leave the country to first flee to the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) and then to take refuge in Miami (USA) where he was arrested on June 12, 2017.

"There is a statement that says “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”. If he (Martinelli) believes that he did not commit any crime, or that accusations are false, he should have stayed in Panama and faced justice as any citizen; when he left, he demonstrated that  the accusations are true, which means that he is afraid of facing something pursuant to our laws," said the politician.

He said he is not afraid that the trial against Martinelli for illegal wiretapping will fail, so he urged the authorities to respect the institutions and laws.

"The Judicial Body must see what it is going to do and I hope that institutions and laws are respected, the trial continues upholding the guarantees, and that he be deemed innocent or guilty in accordance to our laws," said the former president.

The former presidential candidate of the PRD, Balbina Herrera, told Acan-Efe that she only asks the national authorities to "do what they have to do, nothing else but what the Constitution and the law establish".

Herrera said that "Nobody can take from Ricardo Martinelli the year he spent in custody in Miami," and said that at least through his time in prison some justice has already been done.

The opposition member said that "there is always a before and after; this is an example for any president; nobody is above the law or the Constitution," Herrera said.

Meanwhile, the party founded by Martinelli, Cambio Democrático (CD), expressed their "complete" support and asked that his right to have "full defense" be respected.

Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela confirmed this Friday that the US Department of State approved the extradition of his predecessor in office, which is required by the Panamanian justice system for a case of illegal wiretapping affecting more than a hundred opponents.

Varela ruled out Martinelli’s arrival this Friday, although the defense of the 66-year-old former president states that his return is imminent.

Martinelli, who left his country in January 2015 and after several months of unknown whereabouts settled in Miami, said that he is a victim of political persecution by Varela and has at least a dozen pending court cases in Panama.


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