Bribery revelations mute “persecution” mantra

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PANAMA’S  former president, multi-millionaire Ricardo Martinelli, cynically campaigned on the slogan “In the Shoes of the People” and then with his “businessmen”  cabinet, watched his sons lead the plundering of the patrimony of those same people.

This week Martinelli began his sixth month behind bars in a Miami detention center as the extradition process drags on. When it is finalized he will return to face wiretapping charges that could carry a sentence of 20 years.

Waiting on the sidelines  are a host  of other criminal investigations that his PR flak  and lawyer, Luis  Eduardo Camacho has  consistently labeled “political persecution.” Camacho has been not so strangely quiet since last week’s  courtroom revelations that his client’s  sons headed a criminal network dedicated to collecting and distributing close to $90 million in “coima” (bribes) from the Odebrecht Construction company.

With the net drawing  tighter “the Supreme Court (CSJ)  has asked the Electoral Tribunal (TE) to close a bolt hole  for  the supermarket magnate in the investigation of alleged irregularities in a loan granted by Caja de Ahorros (CA) to a  consortium of  Martinelli insiders for the construction of a  never  finished convention  center,  and in the case for extortion of the Italian company, Impreglio.

Martinelli. like his sons had protection under Panama’s quaint rules because, although jailed, he was running for office on Oct. 15 in the CD party that he created to help fulfil his dream, of becoming president.

The request of the CSJ was sent to the TE on October 17 asking it to lift the jurisdiction “for the investigation initiated in response to the certification of copies of the file containing the summary followed by Riccardo Francolini and others, for the alleged commission of a crime against the public administration to the detriment of the CA “.

The ex-CA manager Rodrigo Arosemena Pino revealed   that Francolini – ex-president of the board of directors urged them to

approve the loan, as it was an important project.” for the boss”

Questioned by anti-corruption prosecutor, Tania Sterling, about whom Francolini was referring to as the boss,  Arosemena replied: “He was the president of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli.”

The prosecution sent the file to the CSJ in December 2016 but it was not until February of this year that the Court opened a process against Martinelli.

Meanwhile, the request for canceling immunity in the Impregilo case was filed by the CSJ October 18.

The case, which arrived at the Court in June  2016, had its genesis after the Panama Embassy in Italy sent copies of the  3-year  sentence given to  Valter Lavítola for extorting Impregilo for the construction of a hospital in Veraguas. The judges concluded that Lavítola was only a messenger and that Martinelli was behind the attempted extortion.

“Political persecution” all the way from Italy.

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