Former President of Panama to stand trial for alleged political espionage


Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli will face a trial for the alleged illegal interception of telecommunications of many politicians, businessmen, journalists and activists during his term in office (2009-2014), a Supreme Court judge decided Monday.

The judge, Jeronimo Mejia, issued the order to open trial on the crimes Marinelli is charged with by prosecutor Harry Diaz, including spending millions of dollars on spy equipment, and scheduled the start of the public trial on Dec 11.

Mejia listed each of the four crimes as interception of telecommunications without judicial authorization (4 years in prison), monitoring and surveillance without judicial authorization (4 years), embezzlement of public funds (10 years) and embezzlement for personal use (3 years in prison).

"There is no justice in Panama," the ex-President, 66, shouted, when he was led out of the courtroom at the Supreme Court headquarters on Monday.

Visibly affected, Martinelli, who was extradited from the US in June and who remains temporarily detained in a minimum security prison, once again complained that Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela has manipulated the case against him, something the current president has always denied.

Martinelli could face up to 21 years imprisonment if convicted on all charges.

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