Just because Ricky’s crazed doesn’t mean that people are not out to get him.
But now it seems that his legal defense and political campaigns conflict.
Graphic from one of the media that Martinelli controls.
by Eric Jackson
What to do about a mid-March trial ahead of an early May election? Ricardo Martinelli’s strange behavior leaves much to guess about.
Here’s a guy who won the presidency in a landslide in 2009, running on a platform of being crazy. (“Los locos somos más.”) It helped that as his opponent he had the odious Norieguista Balbina Herrera, in the preceding five years whose entourage had looted the public schools and whose tenure as housing minister left little to recommend her. The American Embassy backing that the Martinelli – Varela slate had also helped.
There followed a great crime spree, for one of the relatively minor offenses Ricardo Martinelli now awaits trial. The charges are warrantless eavesdropping directly on 150 people and through them on thousands, and then theft of the electronic spying equipment.
There was the flight abroad and then the extradition fight. When throwing in the towel on his resistance to being sent back from Miami, Martinelli invoke the specialty clause of the 1904 extradition treaty. That holds that if extradited on one charge a person may not be tried on another but must be returned to his or her residence in exile before any new proceedings — and extradition request — might begin. That the extradition was also under the UN Cyber-Crimes Convention that has no specialty clause tends to complicate matters, but take note. Martinelli, to limit his vulnerability to trial on a host of crimes, claimed Miami as his residence.
As in the USA, the name of Ricky’s game was phalanxes of lawyers doing the full-court stall, with sometimes contradictory and often frivolous motions, some of these repetitively asserted. Also malingering to get court dates delayed. Also running for office from jail, to get candidate immunity from investigation and prosecution.
As in running for mayor of Panama City and for the legislature from one of its multi-member circuits. But in another situation, WHERE did he say his residence is?
Martinelli was called on it, got an electoral judge to rule in his favor, but now that ruling has been rescinded by a 2-1 vote of the Electoral Tribunal. More proceedings on the candidacy question are pending, but it appears that he may be stricken from the ballot as a nonresident of the places where he would run for office.
Then there was the March 13 trial date on the spying and theft case. The day before, his lawyers presented a note from a controversial psychiatrist. In it the claim was made that the former president is seriously mentally ill and needs at least a three-week delay in his trial. The trial was put off so that shrinks from the Institute of Legal Medicine can examine him. Martinelli is notoriously bipolar and it’s perhaps a legitimate question about how manic or depressed he is at the moment. The prosecutors are asking for a 21–year prison sentence, the defense has been all about procedure with little reference to the facts, and one would not have to be crazy to be a bit anxious about the trial.
Let us see what the medical recommendation, the Electoral Tribunal’s decision and the result of any eventual trial may be. And, given the parameters the courts may set, what the voters might do on May 5.