Panama’s ex-president Ricardo Martinelli has sent a handwritten letter to Pope Francis asking him for a visit during the World Youth Day celebrations, to witness the “deplorable” conditions in his accommodation in El Renacer Prison where he has been detained since June 11 awaiting trial for illegal wiretapping of at least 150 people.
Soon after his arrival, Martinelli had air conditioning and a water heater installed in his apartment which also houses a microwave and TV.
He has had numerous confrontations with prison staff, including making physical threats for which he was sanctioned. He recently resisted transfer from a private institution to Santo Tomas public hospital where he refused medical examinations.
During a search of his quarters, he was found with prohibited electronic equipment and money. possibly leading to more sanctions, which has led Panama America, one of the newspapers he owns, to run headlines claiming he is being tortured and claiming that President Varela is responsible.
His spokesman Luis Eduardo Camacho has described these actions as “physical and psychological tortures to cause the death of the ex-president”.