Crunch time for Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal

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Yes, the former president has cash on hand to rent a few busloads of protesters when he finds it convenient to do so. And in various polls, he’s running ahead in a crowded field in search of the presidency. Is that support deep enough that so people will risk arrest, risk their lives, brave the tear gas and birdshot, if the courts find that the 10 years and 8 months prison sentence sticks and Martinelli is out of the race. Doubt it, but then the editor is not a prophet.

The court has a week or two to decide about the latest and perhaps the last stall

by Eric Jackson

Former president Martinelli filed for a cassation — not a constitutional challenge or amparo de garantias this time — on his corruption and money laundering conviction case. He actually got an appeals court that ruled against him to send the case up to the Supreme Court’s three-magistrate Penal Bench. A cassation is essentially a retrial on the merits of the case. To add weight to and protract the time frame for his claims, Martinelli has filed civil and criminal charges against an appeals judge, saying that the man altered a document in the case.

Why the unusual flurry of holiday season motions? Why the troll postings like this one?


Yep. That’s it. If this last-ditch appeal is still pending into next year, then a deadline will have passed and Martinelli won’t be removed from next May’s ballot for being a criminal convicted of and sentenced for a serious — five year or more in prison worth — crime.

It seems that the Penal Bench will probably get the case on December 18. It could take them months or years to retry this case, on charges that were filed in 2017 for a series of corrupt acts that happened in 2011 and 2012, wherein Martinelli and confederates engineered a kickback and money laundering scheme to raise the fund to buy the EPASA newspaper chain — El Panama America, La Critica and Dia a Dia. Those media properties have been key pieces in Martinelli’s political propaganda campaigns and part of the judgement to send him to prison was the confiscation of these newspapers.

Martinelli off the ballot, and the newspapers backing his stand-in and the rest of his RM party ticket no longer under his effective control? Mother of mercy, is this the end of Ricky?

Might be, if the Penal Bench rather immediately decides not to hear this case. Yes, he’d move to reconsider, but all nine magistrates know exactly what’s going on and could uphold any challenge or reject any motion before the Electoral Tribunal’s end of December ballot deadline.

We are about to see just how serious and upright this incarnation of Panama’s Supreme Court really is.


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