Lawyer and university professor Jacqueline Hurtado pointed out that the trial, scheduled from the 12th to the 30th of the ninth month of the year and postponed due to the lack of defense attorneys due to health problems in July, was a mockery of the judiciary citizens who five years after the start of the investigation waiting for the result.
It would be an opportunity to demonstrate that the judiciary is impartial, or the beginning of the transformation of the justice system, although Hurtado believes that “we have seen sick people in other trials before while they were convicted and jumped when they were acquitted.” became. “
On July 18, Judge Baloisa Marquínez postponed the hearing until September.
Citing norms of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the attorney noted that the decision responded to the lack of defense attorneys, some of them wrongful, in addition to the refusal of some of the 62 defendants to obtain them from the state and be represented on private property
The hearing began with live televised broadcasts, but several apologies (some medical) from defense attorneys reached the court, prompting Marquínez to stay the offense and reschedule it.
Marquínez reiterated that accepting an alternative hearing date is only the legal authority of the court and judge, and not of the defendants or their defense counsel.
He also urged the defendants, even without their legal representative, to name and duly present a right that will assist them; He urged lawyers to study in advance the two thousand 752 volumes (one million three hundred thousand pages) of the investigation launched in 2017 and the indictments filed.
The most important corruption trial in the country’s republican history points to the bribes that the Brazilian construction company paid to rulers, politicians and middlemen in exchange for contracts with the Panamanian state.
In statements to Prensa Latina, Ruth Morcillo, who heads the State Department team, said prosecutors will request a trial of 50 people under investigation, including two former Presidents of the Republic: Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) and Juan Carlos Varela (2014).-2019).
The first’s two sons (Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares) are jailed in the United States after confessing to laundering $28 million in bribes to Odebrecht on the orders of their father, the former governor.
Neither Varela nor Martinelli appeared in the courtroom at the time, and the latter’s lawyers commented that their client did not have to appear because, as leader of the Realizing Goals party, he enjoyed electoral criminal jurisdiction amid internal elections; this benefit was withdrawn, for which he must appear in court in September.
Analysts find it shameful that Martinelli’s two sons have been sentenced to 36 months in prison in New York, while the criminal process in Panama is just beginning.
In addition to the 50 natural persons, there is one legal entity: Importadora Ricamar, which commercially operates the Super 99 market chain, owned by the multi-millionaire Martinelli family.
PANAMA ARRIVES WITH DELAYS
According to Hurtado to La Estrella de Panamá newspaper, the Odebrecht case has been solved across the continent, with all the guilty convicted in every country involved.
You have already declared all the money that went through our bank, our country and who was involved, there are Panamanians imprisoned in other countries. Here, with so much evidence and first-hand evidence, we can’t get a very different conclusion, he slammed.
Referring to this case, the VP of the People’s Party recalled that the world knows that all the contractors were part of the corruption system set up by the company across Latin America, and Panama was no exception.
In his opinion, the successive governments have left information out of public opinion, and in these sensitive moments for the country, he believed that all the details should be known to the citizens who are protesting today, raising their voices and wanting to bring about a profound change in the Company.
He supported civic action groups against anyone who steals public funds for their own gain and hopes that those involved in this plundering of public funds will remain behind bars after this trial, regardless of what high-ranking position they previously held.
For the former president of the National Forum for Women in Political Parties, corruption is a cancer for countries, and Panama does not escape this reality.
“Officials enrich themselves at the expense of the Panamanian people’s money, nepotism and impunity. Odebrecht was a great university of corruption, waste and illicit enrichment. This process must lead to an outcome that encourages all citizens to believe in the judiciary and our system,” he noted.
The former President of the National Bar Association, Alfonso Fraguela, described this process in the Odebrecht case as historic in an interview with local media.
In this regard, he specified that it aims to sanction and hold accountable all those enriched with public funds and positions within the state.
He felt that there were still some aspects to be revealed, but that’s not something to be proud of, quite the opposite. It is a criminal scheme in which many people have shown contempt for the Panamanian people by committing this crime against public administration, he added.
Former government spokesman for Martín Torrijos (2004-2009), who carried out important tax, banking and social security reforms, among other things, stated that the Odebrecht case would test the Panamanian judiciary.
In other latitudes, presidents, former presidents and officials have ended up in prison and with confiscation of ill-gotten gains. Unless Panama resolves this case, citizens’ trust in the judiciary and its role in a democratic country will increasingly crumble, he argued.
According to academics, Odebrecht was embroiled in the continent’s biggest corruption scandal, admitting to US authorities that he had paid millions of dollars in bribes in a dozen countries, almost all in Africa and Latin America, and had been fined two for 1.6 billion dollars.
In Panama, the company and prosecutors agreed in 2017 that the company would pay the state about $220 million over 12 years.