PANAMA CITY – The oral arguments in the trial of former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli in the case against him for illegal wiretapping and embezzlement will begin on March 12 in regular court, the Panamanian judiciary said on Monday.
The 66-year-old Martinelli, who governed the country from 2009-2014, has been in precautionary custody in a minimum security prison since last June after being extradited by the United States and stands accused of four counts that could result in his receiving a 21-year prison sentence.
He will be brought to trial after last December the Panamanian Supreme Court declared itself unable to try him because he had resigned from his post as a Central American lawmaker, where he had served since he left Panama’s presidency in July 2014.
The judiciary also said on its Twitter account that a hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 4 at which the court will consider the request for bail presented by Martinelli’s attorneys.
In charge of prosecuting Martinelli will be Ricaurte Gonzalez.
The former president had claimed to be a victim of political persecution by the current government headed by Juan Carlos Varela, who has denied that charge and has asserted his respect for the separation of powers.
Martinelli stands accused of violating the country’s privacy laws, embezzlement, abuse of authority and illicit association.
The court proceedings against Martinelli began in 2015, after he had already left Panama claiming political persecution.