EX-PRESIDENT Ricardo Martinelli is “cornered and desperate,” says Panama’s presidential spokesman, Jorge González, after the latest habeas corpus filed in the United States by the ex-president to avoid extradition.
The filing repeated the “political persecution” mantra of Martinelli and a core of his supporters, many of whom are facing corruption charges,
It says he is “victim of a vendetta of the president Juan Carlos Varela”, and that everything arose because Martinelli confronted him with “evidence” that he received bribes from consular officials when he was chancellor.
Gonzalez says that the differences between the politicians arose from the strong questioning that Varela made over “illegal titling” of a plot in Paitilla which had to be resolved in the Cabinet of August 23 2011.
“At the end of this cabinet, Varela strongly questioned then-President Martinelli, which led to the rupture [of the political alliance of Democratic Change and the Panameñista Party] the following week, ” said Gonzalez.
The appeal was filed by the attorneys of the ex-president by Marcos Jiménez, John Byrne and Jordi Carlo Santiago Martínez Cid on Thursday, September 28.
Martinelli is in jail in Miami, while awaiting extradition to Panama where he is accountable to the Supreme Court for the alleged commission of crimes against the inviolability of secrecy and the right to privacy (wiretapping). If found guilty he could face a jail term of up to 20 years.
This is not the first time that the ex-president has accused Varela of taking bribes reports La Prensa. Last June, his legal team presented documents to Judge Edwin Torres in which they said that Martinelli, on August 30, 2011, dismissed Varela from the Chancellery after finding him charging kickbacks of up to $25,000 to consulate officers. Martinelli, however, did not make any formal complaint.