This Friday, August 9, Ricardo Martinelli will know if he is innocent or guilty of four charges charged by the prosecution: against the inviolability of secrecy and the right to privacy, or interception of telecommunications without judicial authorization; monitoring, persecution and surveillance without judicial authorization. To this are added two crimes against the public administration in the form of peculation: for subtraction or embezzlement and peculation of use.
The Trial Court, made up of Judges Arleen Caballero, Justo Vergara and Roberto Tejeira (president), must decide whether in the four months with fourteen days that the trial lasted, the Prosecutor Against Organized Crime accredited the crimes for which he accuses Martinelli
The allegations of each party will be presented on Thursday after the defense culminated in the evacuation of their testimonial and documentary evidence.
Judge Tejeira summoned the parties at 10:00 am The prosecution, the complainants and the defense will have an hour each to present their allegations. The rule indicates that victims may have 15 minutes to be heard, but depending on the number of victims attending, the judge may reduce the time to 10 minutes each. This practice is not typical of these types of trials, it is more common in the homicide process.However, judges often listen to victims in other cases.
In this regard, Martinelli will also address the Court, as advanced by the defense. However, the statements, both of the former president and the victims, will be without prior oath, so they will not have probative value before the Court.
Once the allegations are completed, the Court will declare itself in permanent session for 24 hours to deliberate and give its verdict. This announcement will be brief. It consists in ruling whether the accused is guilty or innocent, and what crime. You will then listen to the parties, who will ask the Court to impose the penalty.
However, the judge defines the number of years he will impose on the accused within 10 days, when he will call a new hearing to support the sentence.
It is an extremely thorough work that ‘cannot be done on a swinging drum’, recognizes Tejeira. It must be a substantial and motivated decision to understand what the Court relied on to make such an important decision.
The judgment of the Court can be appealed by the parties; For this reason, it is extremely important for Tejeira to motivate the sentence.
On Friday, the financial compensation required by the victims will also be established and amounts will be set according to the support that supports them.
Crimes and prison sentences
In the list of crimes charged in the Criminal Procedure Code, article 338, which deals with the different forms of peculation, in the form of embezzlement is punishable by imprisonment for four to ten years in prison. While the peculate of use, article 341, applies to the public servant a prison penalty of one to three years in prison or its equivalent on fine days or weekend arrests.
On the other hand, who, without the authorization of the judicial authority, intercepts communications, listens, records or reproduces conversations that are not addressed to the public, article 167, will be punished with a penalty of two to four years in prison. The same time stipulates article 168, which talks about monitoring, persecution or surveillance for illicit purposes.
Thursday will be a crucial moment. Prosecutor Ricaurte González will be responsible for bashing each of the evidence, documentaries, testimonials and expert opinions that entered the Court, tying them with his theory of the case, and convincing the Court about the guilt of the accused as an author. “It will be David against Goliath, David will win,” said prosecutor Ricaurte González.
The defense, meanwhile, will point to the deficiencies, contradictions and inconsistencies found in the actions of the Prosecutor. It will also appeal to cross-examinations that complicated prosecutorial evidence, or weaknesses in the custody of evidence.
The judge granted three days, at the request of the prosecution, for the parties to prepare their plea.
The defense and the prosecution are confident that the Court’s ruling will be in their favor.
Prosecutor Aurelio Vásquez bets on his best proof: the testimony of the victims who appeared before the Court, who identified their emails, narrated their effects as a result of telephone interventions and follow-ups.
‘The feeling of the victims is the best evidence of the prosecution, it is the mechanism to enforce justice.That justice is requested by those who feel affected, they have recognized, they have suffered not only the trial inside but the media that can affect any situation beyond revictimization, ‘said Vásquez.
“The body language of the judges makes me understand that they are clear in the facts that have been presented in documentary and testimonial evidence,” Gonzalez said.
“For us it is clear that Martinelli’s state of innocence is maintained and it is also evident that based on the evidence that reached the Court, only the absolute verdict fits,” said defense attorney Sidney Sittón. He added that no prosecution witness pointed to his client as the author of any crime.
The trial began on March 12 of this year. The former president was extradited to Panama on June 12, 2018. That day he was transferred to the El Renacer prison. He was immediately called to the Court to face justice. The prosecution requested 21 years in prison for the former governor.
In order to prove these crimes, the prosecution presented 74 testimonial evidence, but in the trial phase, it renounced 39 of them for considering that it was to be based on the statements made by the witnesses who appeared at trial. He also introduced 48 documentary evidence.
For its part, the defense cited three of 21 witnesses it had scheduled, and introduced approximately 23 documentary evidence.
On June 12, the Court granted house arrest to the accused, after serving a year deprived of liberty.