Martinelli seeks immunity

His lawyers have appealed a decision of the Tribunal Electoral suspending his immunity.


Defense attorneys for former President Ricardo Martinelli have filed a motion appealing the decision by the Tribunal Electoral (TE) suspending his immunity.

Lawyer Sidney Sitton filed an appeal stating that Martinelli should have immunity due to his position as chairman of the Democratic Change (CD) party, which has scheduled internal elections for October.

He argued that the upcoming elections prevent Martinelli from being investigated for illegal wiretaps allegedly conducted while he was in office.

The TE has argued that the immunity does not apply because the date of the election has not been finalized. TE Judge Eduardo Valdés Escóffery said the date of the elections could still be challenged, so it is not final.

Once it is finalized, he said the party's leaders would then be granted immunity.

Another appeal submitted by Sitton called for the dismissal of Judge Oydén Ortega as the prosecutor in the case in which Martinelli faces charges for irregularities in the National Assistance Program (PAN).

In that letter, Sitton lists a series of actions which, according to him, have affected the "due process and the right to a defense" of his client. He says that he has been denied access to records and interviews of witnesses. He said that witnesses have offered evidence that has cleared the former president which has not been turned over to the defense.

Judge Jerome Mejía has previously ruled that defense lawyers can conduct their own interviews and that prosecutors did not have to notify Sitton of every interview they conduct.



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