PANAMA’S justice system sits close to the bottom of the country’s assets, with the widely endorsed perception that corruption starts at the top of the judicial ladder and permeates downwards not in a trickle, but like a gush of black water from a broken IDAAN pipe, staining all within reach from lawyers fattening their purses and bellies with obstructionist moves on behalf of inner circle clients poised to flee the country, down to the traffic cop taking coima, from a complicit motorist.
Two bizarre twists have surfaced this week in the ongoing saga with almost as many twists and turns than a day of Trump Tweets.
Just when you thought that ex-president Ricardo Martinelli’s extensive legal team had run out of options, as he sits in a Miami cell without even a smartphone to twiddle his thumbs, he has come up with the suggestion that he resign from Parlacen, the do-nothing regional hideout for washed up politicians, looking for another cookie jar, that he once described as “a den of thieves” and vowed to abolish Panama’s participation if elected.
Instead, he led his own gang, outnumbering Ali Baba’s 40 to build their own treasure cave.
When his presidency ended, he did a quick flip-flop and rushed to enrol in Parlacen as a firewall against prosecution, and ensuring that as a sitting member, any attempts at prosecution would have to wend their way through the Supreme Court, well fortified with his appointees.
Then came the extradition process, his arrest and near six months detention, which allowed time to consider abandoning the thieves parlour and maybe give him another shot at dodging extradition to face in the first case (wiretapping ) a potential 20-year sentence, with a dozen other cases sitting in the wings. His well-heeled lawyers agreed. Like stockbrokers, win or lose, they will get paid.
When the worm turns
Meanwhile, Riccardo Francolini, a Martinelli business buddy who when serving as head of the board of the State bank, Caja de Ahhoros, referred to Martinelli as “the boss”. Others have preferred to use “capo”.
Francolini, facing multiple corruption charges in a Pana-net of Martinelli insiders, some of whom are now finding their singing voices, has decided to file a $6 million libel case against the anti-corruption prosecutor in the Odebrecht bribery scandal. $6 million is small change in the cases in which Francolini figures,
Maybe one day it will all make a Netflix series which will have to be labeled fiction.