Some members of Panama's delegation to the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) issued a statement today calling for former President Ricardo Martinelli to face a criminal investigation on corruption charges.
Lawyers for Martinelli have claimed his membership in the regional organization gives him immunity, a stance disputed by the Parlcen members from the PRD, Panameñista and Popular parties. Martinelli attended a Parlacen meeting in Guatemala last week and has not yet returned to Panama.
Through a resolution, the Parlacen members endorsed the Jan. 28 decision of the Supreme Court to open an investigation into Martinelli for irregularities in the National Assistance Program (PAN).
According to these members, this case is not one of "political persecution," as Martinelli has claimed, but "a proper performance of a judicial body which pursues criminal acts of corruption."
Deputy Gilberto Succari, who read the document, said that Parlacen "has not been nor will be" a place for members to evade justice, and "is not a den of thieves," the same words used by Martinelli to describe the body while he was running for president.
The Declaration was supported by deputies Cirilo Salas Lemos, Gilberto Succari, Priscilla de Miró, Dorindo Cortez, Exberto Cedeño, Abelardo Muñoz, José Simpson, José Ramos Reyes, Juan Pablo García, Germán Arrocha, Carlos González, Aurelio Alonso, Alexis Zuleta, Carlos Pérez Herrera and Harry Martínez.
Last week Parlacen Vice President Rafael Espada said that Martinelli has no immunity through his membership.
"The regulation is very clear. We do not protect anyone," he said.