A Panama court opened a first trial today against security officials of the administration of the conservative former president Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), accused of conducting a series of illegal interceptions on at least 150 people, including journalists, social workers and opposition figures.
The preliminary hearing will be held behind closed-doors, on orders of the court, to allow the presentation of “the dignity and rights of the victims whose intimacy was infringed”. The defendants include the former chiefs Security advisers Alejandro Garúz and Gustavo Pérez, both in prison since January, the former officials Ronny Ramiro Rodríguez and William Pitti, both at large facing arrest warrants.
Pérez and Garúz, who is the father of Martinelli’s son-in-law, were visited over the weekend at the Instituto de Medicina Legal y Ciencias Forenses (Imelcf, Legal medicine and forensics institute), to confirm their capacity to stand trial.
Panama’s supreme court also opened a trial on August 8 in the same illegal interceptions case against Martinelli, who already face other two trials for the acquisition of overbilled dehydrated foods and the signing of over 300 pardons.
Martinelli, currently a legislator of the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), left the country on January 28 and is now in the US, according to his lawyers. The government of his successor, Juan Carlos Varela, has filed at least 200 cases against officials of his administration for corruption, including nearly all his ministers.