Martinelli’s bed of thorns

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IN THE SHORT term Panama’s former  president,  Ricardo Martinelli, currently behind bars in a Miami detention, center could have a better life if he were to return to his home country to  face trial for illegal surveillance of at least 150 of his fellow citizens, in whose shoes he claimed to walk.

The shoes got muddied when under his guidance the National Security Council, using over $13 million of sophisticated  snooping equipment, acquired  from Israel.  tuned in to communications of political opponents, journalists and businessmen.  Even  lawyers and judges were seen as targets and, according to published reports   recordings of bedroom activities were salaciously shared with  members of his inner circle.

Prison garb and cuffs for hearings

Believers in Karma or comeuppance will be gratified to know that Panama’s  authoritarian supermarket billionaire whose life has been blessed with  luxury endowments, is now forced to abide by the rules of others, and the bed of roses has been replaced by the thorns of justice.

Martinelli is subject to a strict disciplinary regime in a federal prison,  where he awaits an extradition hearing after a judge- whom he did not appoint,  turned down a $20 million bid to return to the comforts of his newly acquired $8.2 million home in Coral Gables.

The prison marshalls monitor his phone calls,  his beloved Twitter and the letters he receives, lawyer Francisco Carreira, told El Siglo.

Carreira  said that monitoring calls and letters is part of the regulations of a federal prison and  pointed out that, inside its walla  Martinelli is treated as a common criminal.

The ex-martinet  can have access to the common area of the floor where he is incarcerated  and have contact with other detainees with time limitations.

“He has no communication with the outside, with the exception of a daily call and the visit of its lawyers,” said Carreira  and he  has to follow a strict regime of sleeping, bathing and eating at specific times.

“He’s in a building and it’s not like Panamanian prisons out in the open. Access is limited. These are totally adverse conditions, ” said. The lawyer

In prison, Martinelli wears the standard  prison jump suit  whenever he is outside his cell or attending hearings.

He  has already spent 45 days in what he might consider harsh  conditions. His option to return to Panama to face justice could have short term benefits in El Renacer prison but, if found guilty he faces up to 21 years in jail, and there are multiple corruption charges pending.


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