Martinelli upgrades Nicaragua’s embassy as Panama weighs asylum

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By LatAm Reports Editor

While Panama discusses whether the government should grant the safe conduct to former President Ricardo Martinelli, to go to Nicaragua, which gave him political asylum, the still candidate for re-election conditioned to his liking this Thursday the Nicaraguan diplomatic headquarters.

While Panama discusses whether the government should grant the safe conduct to former President Ricardo Martinelli, to go to Nicaragua, which gave him political asylum, the still candidate for re-election conditioned to his liking this Thursday the Nicaraguan diplomatic headquarters.

A large water tank, televisions, air conditioners, other appliances and even their pet arrived this morning at the Nicaraguan embassy. 

A water tank, televisions, air conditioners, other appliances and even their pet arrived this morning at the Nicaraguan embassy, adding to the mattresses and boxes of food, among others, delivered on the site on Wednesday, a few hours after Daniel Ortega’s government reported on Martinelli’s asylum and it was confirmed that the politician was there.

The diplomatic headquarters, located in a middle-class neighborhood in Panama City, is an old roof house with broken tiles and walls and bars of deconsted paint. On Thursday, the surroundings of the place dawned with a police presence.

Martinelli, a 71-year-old tycoon, argues that he asked Nicaragua for asylum because he is a “political waiter” and because the current Panamanian government either wants to “maot” him in prison, extremes that President Laurentino Cortizo has denied.

The safe conduct

Martinelli’s movement surprised many in Panama, where he is being labeled a “coward,” as former Attorney General Ana Matilde Gómez told EFE; and, of “common criminal who is evading justice,” as former Supreme Judge Harry Díaz said.

The latter was the prosecuting prosecutor in the special trial of the former president for illegal eavesdropping, a case that came out of the highest court to end in an ordinary court with a questionable acquittal.

Gómez and Díaz call for the safe passage because they argue, like many analysts, that Martinelli’s alleged political persecution does not exist.

They argue that the former president was prosecuted for a common crime such as laundering and the 128-month sentence was ratified in two instances, including the Supreme Court, in a judicial process that began in 2017 and suffered delays due to abusive use of Martinelli’s legal system, something his lawyers deny.

But policies like Balbina Herrera, who faced Martinelli as a presidential candidate in the elections she won in 2009, thinks she better go out of the country and end the issue.

The understandings cite international conventions that Panama is entitled to deny safe conduct and ask Nicaragua to hand over Martinelli, although it can also authorize his departure and then request his extradition to Nicaragua.

The Foreign Ministry reported Wednesday that it “has brought Nicaragua’s request to grant a safe conduct to the attention of Martinelli to reach the nation led since 2007 by Daniel Ortega.

The Government of Ortega has also given asylum to former Salvadoran governors Mauricio Funes (2009-2014) and Salvador Sánchez Cerén (2014-2019), both fugitives from justice in their country and who also granted Nicaraguan nationality, so that they cannot be extradited.

Missing a role to disable Martinelli

The Electoral Tribunal said today that once it has the copy of the final sentence against Martinelli, “the corresponding procedure will be carried out expeditiously and as established by the Constitution.”

The Panamanian Magna Carta, the electoral body recalled, reads in its article 180 that “it shall not be elected president who has been convicted of a crime with a custodial sentence of five years or more,” as is the case of (2009-2014).

On Wednesday, in a letter bearing his signature and that was widely disseminated, Martinelli asked his followers to support José Raúl Mulino, his key as vice president but who will automatically remain as presidential aspirant of the party Realizing Metas (RM) after his disqualification.

Mulino, 68, who according to the only poll published after the start of the campaign last Saturday appears fourth with 6 percent of the intention to vote, “he will do it the same and even better than me,” Martinelli said in his letter.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in Tunota