THE LEGAL team of former President Ricardo Martinelli has embarked on a new strategy to avoid him facing charges before the Supreme Court of Panama following the lifting of his immunity by the Electoral Tribunal (TE).
Within 48 hours of the TE re-confirming the lifting, defense team leader Sidney Sitton mounted a fresh challenge and claimed a new electoral jurisdiction, within the CD party which would return Martinelli’s immunity from the process in the Supreme Court where he faces criminal charges over potential irregularities in a $44.9 million dehydrated food contract through the National Assistance Program (PAN).
But, says the Bar Association, continued delaying moves could have consequences.
The defense document says that the CD Board approved new rules on Monday April 13 with a timetable for internal elections scheduled for Sunday September 27, a move that would give new electoral immunity to Martinelli according to Sitton.
The request is based on Article 143 of the Electoral Code developed by Article 7 of Decree 11 of April 21, 2008 reports La Prensa.
Article 2 of that provision states that: “candidates, presidents and vice presidents, secretaries and general secretaries of legally constituted parties enjoy criminal immunity (…) from the call for referendums and up to three months after the closure of the electoral process.”
Recently, Martinelli, who is in self-imposed exile in Miami, ceded the presidency of the CD to Romulo Roux.
On April 8, the Electoral Tribunal (TE) lifted Martinelli’s immunity as president of the CD at the request of the Supreme Court.
Ex Tribunal judge Guillermo Marquez Amado said that presenting this request obviously means: “There is a fear of the process “If an innocent person us accused of something, the first thing that person wants is to deal with it quickly, but if that person knows he is caught in something, the last thing he wants is to be judged,” Amado Marquez said.
The President of the National Bar Association, José Alberto Alvarez, said that this latest application is only part of the tactics used by the legal team throughout the whole process of the trial of the former president
“We imagine that these lawyers are going to use all the delaying tactics that they can find in the codes and to try to prevent the trial of the former President, Martinelli,” he said.
Alvarez said the judges of the Court should note that the Judicial Code contains rules for a judge or magistrate punish an attorney using excessive litigation, ie lawyers who constantly use delaying resources. The judge, in this case, the Court must determine when these excesses are used.
After being consulted on the new jurisdiction, Electoral Tribunal Judge, Eduardo Valdes Escoffery, chose not to pursue the subject pending, the decision of the Court and just simply said that “each process has its specific removal [of immunity] “and that after April 30 there is no immunity reports La Prensa.