Nicaragua grants asylum to former President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli

Photo of author

By LatAm Reports Editor

The Nicaraguan regime asked Panama to provide the assurances for the disparting and humanitarian transfer of the asylum-seeker Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal to the territory of the Republic of Nicaragua.

Daniel Ortega’s regime in Nicaragua granted asylum on Wednesday to the former president of Panama (2009-2014) and re-election candidate Ricardo Martinelli, who was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison and a fine of more than $19 million for money laundering.

In accordance with the Convention on Asylum of 1928 and the Convention on Political Asylum of 1933, ratified by our country, and recognizing that asylum is a humanitarian institution and that all persons may be under its protection, without distinction of nationality, Nicaragua decided to grant asylum to Mr. Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal, former President of the Republic of Panama, the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

In the letter, sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama, Nicaragua explained that Martinelli applied for asylum at the Embassy of the Republic of Nicaragua in Panama, by journalist Consuelo Sandoval, for considering himself persecuted for political reasons and being at risk for his life, physical integrity and security.

In this regard, the Nicaraguan regime asked Panama to provide the assurances for the long-departure departure and humanitarian transfer of the asylum-seeker Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal to the territory of the Republic of Nicaragua.
A source close to the former president told EFE that Martinelli applied to the Nicaraguan Government for asylum because there are no constitutional guarantees in Panama or there is a law, after being sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for money laundering.

The same source confirmed to EFE that the Nicaraguan Ministry of Foreign Affairs accepted the asylum application.

Martinelli considers himself a “political sperpe”

Martinelli, 71, who calls himself a political persecutor, said last Saturday on his X account that “forces of evil” seek to disqualify him for the general elections of May 5, in which he aspires to the presidency for his new party, Realizing Metas (RM), counting on the favoritism of the electorate, according to the few polls available.

With the ratification of the sentence after a cassation appeal, the last legal avenue to annul it, was rejected by the Supreme Court in an unappealable decision published in an edict last Friday, Martinelli was disqualified from being a candidate, told EFE jurists who cited the Constitution and the Electoral Code and who clarified that a series of procedures must be followed for this.

The sentence disqualifies Martinelli because he is more than 5 years in prison and given the nature of the crime, according to the lawyers, based on article 180 of the current Constitution.

The Electoral Tribunal will enforce due process and above all what the Constitution and the law governing the electoral process say, said the governing body of the elections in a statement – in the face of the growing disinformation related to Martinelli’s candidacy.

Sentenced to 128 months in prison

The former president was sentenced last July to 128 months in prison and a fine of $19.2 million for the irregular purchase of the Epasa media publisher, a case dating back to 2017.

With the rejection of the cassation appeal, Martinelli’s file must be returned to the first instance that issued the judgement, which is the Liquidating Court of Criminal Cases, so that, already enforceable after a series of formalities, it establishes the way in which his driving or arrest will be effective. It’s not clear how long this will take.

Martinelli was remanded in custody between June 2018 and June 2019 in a cell chalet in El Renacer, a minimum security prison on the outskirts of the capital, while facing a trial for illegal interception of the telecommunications of 150 people during his government, a case in which he was acquitted.

His passage through El Renacer was controversial: he suffered physical ills that took him to the hospital, was suspended for a month for visits for threatening the guards, as reported in October 2018, and even, in the face of a complaint from Martinelli, the Penitentiary System had to clarify that he was treated like any other prisoner in the place, because he went to his medical appointments, did his diligence, went out to the courtyard in a regular way and went to Mass.

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