Ex-president Ricardo Martinelli cannot leave Panama without judicial authorization and must report on the 15th of each month. The order was issued by the Second Prosecutor against Organized Crime when Martinelli opted to not answer questions about the purchase of the Epasa [publishing] Group allegedly with public funds.
The precautionary measure was issued on Thursday, July 2, by, Emeldo Márquez, who summoned him to face an investigation for alleged money laundering, in the case known as New Business.
Martinelli availed himself of article 25 of the Constitution -which indicates that no one is obliged to testify against himself-.
He claimed the application of the specialty principle contained in the extradition treaty signed in 1904 by the United States and Panama, and showed a certificate issued by cardiologist Gabriel Frago, stating that he is incapacitated from July 1 to 3.
On July 3, Martinelli has another investigation, with the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office investigating the bribes paid by Odebrecht in Panama.
Former President Juan Carlos Varela has also been called by the Odebrecht prosecutor.
Dr. Frago previously treated Martinelli as a private doctor, when he was detained in El Renacer prison, after being extradited from the United States, where he was detained for a year.
On several occasions, Frago certified that his client suffered from coronary heart disease, chronic high blood pressure, sleep apnea, glaucoma and depression, among other conditions. Frago gave testimony, under oath, in the hearings before magistrate Jerónimo Mejía, who served as judge of guarantees of the wiretap case, when the jurisdiction was held by the Supreme Court of Justice.
Roniel Ortiz , Martinelli's lawyer, reported that "there is no further summons", given that his client is incapacitated by Frago. Asked by journalists whether that means he won't appear for the Odebrecht bribery probe on Friday, Ortiz responded angrily reports TVN:
"How is he going to come, if he is disabled?" Ortiz said that invoking Article 25 of the Constitution "is the strategy that we are going to use." And said that with the prosecutor Márquez, "there was no question of any kind."
Martinelli also repeated his mantra of "political persecution", and accused prosecutors "of responding to Kenia Porcell," who last December resigned as Attorney General and was replaced by Eduardo Ulloa.
"All this happened because I hijacked the current accounts of Kenia Porcell," he told reporters.
“I am the largest businessman in this country, the one who pays the most taxes. If the law, the Constitution and international treaties violate me , what won't they do to the rest of the investors? ”he said
Martinelli blames Porcell, "who still has his tentacles here", and Juan Carlos Varela, "who still rules in this Public Ministry."
Asked to explain, then, how it was possible that Varela -if he still had command was at that time under investigation, Martinelli avoided the questions and said- the case had the purpose of "closing" the Epasa Group, which publishes newspaper El Panamá América, "the only independent media that tells the truth."
“This is all a political hoax on the part of Juan Carlos Varela and Kenia Porcell! They are the ones who rule in this Public Ministry! ”, He said when he left the place.
Martinelli insists on the application of the specialty principle, despite the fact that the United States - through its embassy in Panama and the US State Department - has indicated that this principle is no longer in force because the former president has traveled outside of Panama since September of 2019. Leaving the country is one of the exceptions to the specialty principle, as stated in the 1904 bilateral treaty.
The specialty principle implies that Martinelli could not be prosecuted for cases other than the one for which he was extradited by the United States, in June 2018: illegal wiretaps.. In August 2019, a court declared him “not guilty”, a verdict sentence that is under appeal.
Since December 2019, the United States has reported that Panama is free to prosecute and try Martinelli for other cases.
In the New Business case, the prosecution investigates about 40 people for alleged of money laundering in the transactions for the purchase of Epasa.
The New Business company served as a “basket” to accumulate at least $43.9 million, which was used to acquire the publisher in 2010, when Martinelli was president.
Deja Vu. Well, here we go again. Is anyone surprised? Same clown, just a new circus.