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.
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life has been blessed with luxury endowments, is now forced to abide by the rules of others, and the bed of roses has been replaced by the thorns of justice.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.