Martinelli malingers, so it seems

Martinelli in one of his more pretentious moments. Archive photo by the Presidencia.

Martinelli mocks Panama with contrived health crisis

by Eric Jackson

Yes, we heard from former first lady and Cambio Democratico vice presidential candidate Marta Linares de Martinelli. Yes, we heard from the doctors that she and her husband, former president Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, had hired. The ex-president, having passed a year in US custody without hospitalization but with some chronic medical conditions noted, was deathly ill and would not survive incarceration in the nation’s easiest prison, El Renacer near Gamboa.

It has long been known that Martinelli has chronic bipolar depression. In US custody he was prescribed medication to control his blood pressure. Was he also treated for a heart arhythmia? We hear about that condition from the Martinelli camp and if he was treated for that at the Miami Federal Detention Center it is likely that the jail physicians there would have passed on word about it to their Panamanian counterparts.

So Martinelli is flown to Panama, sent to El Renacer, then brought to the Supreme Court to have his rights read to him and to be formally informed of the charges in the case at hand. He goes back to El Renacer, from whence tales leaked out of his refusal to take medication which had been prescribed for him. Shortly thereafter he was sent to the prison unit at Santo Tomas Hospital for a blood pressure spike and suspected heartbeat irregularities.

At the hospital’s lock ward, Martinelli refused to be examined by a team of physicians from the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences. He did answer some questions from them, and they did get to see the records of the El Renacer physician and the physicians at Santo Tomas.

Meanwhile, there was this political mob scene in and around the hospital, with lawyers, the former first lady and others insisting on full access to the former president as if the lock ward at Santo Tomas is an upscale private hospital rather than a prison. By some versions Martinelli’s refusal to be examined by the government doctors was due to a demand or expectation that his lawyers would be present to register their objections and disruptions of the examination.

On Wednesday night, June 13, the medical examiner team led by Dr. Olga Alvarado Ng, a member of the institute’s board, reported to high court magistrate Jerónimo Mejía, who is the presiding judge for Martinelli’s trial in the wiretapping and theft of eavesdropping equipment case. Alvarado said that despite the patient’s refusal to be examined, the government team did get to see the medical records, that Martinelli’s conditions are treatable as outpatient matters, that in Santo Tomas his blood pressure and heartbeat were under control and that there was apparently no medical reason for him to be hospitalized. She said that any decision to release him from the hospital –- and back to El Renacer –- would be up to the treating physicians at Santo Tomas.

Later that evening the Santo Tomas doctors approved Martinell’s release from the hospital, but the paperwork sending him from the lock ward back to the penitentiary would happen the following day.

It appears that Mejía will hear motions by Martinelli’s lawyers on Friday, June 15. Most prominently, to release the former president who fled the country to avoid prosecution on bail, among other things because of his allegedly delicate state of health. Look for a small but rowdy crowd of Martinelistas to be at the Supreme Court in Ancon for that event. At a previous hearing, some of Martinelli’s wiretapping targets were in attendance and one of them, the ex-president’s 2009 PRD opponent, Balbina Herrera was assaulted when one of Martinelli’s supporters threw a bottle of water at her.

The show will go on. Because the Electoral Tribunal has banned the publication of opinion polls we will for the moment only get anecdotal evidence of how it is playing in the court of public perception.

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