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Panama reacts to Martinelli arrest

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Ricardo Martinelli Ricardo Martinelli
Ricardo Martinelli LA PRENSA/Archivo

"It's an action we've been waiting for for a long time."

This was expressed by Balbina Herrera, a former presidential candidate and victim of illegal wiretaps during the government of Ricardo Martinelli, after the latter was detained in Florida by US marshalls

Martinelli was taken Tuesday afternoon - along with other federal inmates - to a South Florida District Magistrate, where he was informed of the extradition proceedings against him. A red alert was issued by Interpol, following a request from Panama, that prompted the arrest. 

Herrera, who ran against Martinellin in 2009, said that Martinelli could have avoided what is happening to him if he had faced Panama investigations. 

"I think he could have escaped the international embarrassment," said Herrera, who asked Martinelli to respect due process, "something he did not do to us when he was president."

Another victim, attorney Rosendo Rivera, said he was pleased that US authorities had decided to accept the extradition request for Martinelli to face justice. 

"We hope that the process is handled quickly and in the most appropriate way possible," said Rivera, although he recalled that these procedures can take time.

Attorney Miguel Antonio Bernal said that "Martinelli should not have be allowed to leave the country," which has delayed the matter.

Bernal commented that, like many other Panamanians, he expects Martinelli, and others involved in acts of corruption, to be tried by justice, however, he questioned what he considers a lack of spirit on the part of the Panamanian authorities in achieving this. 

Mitchell Doens, a former general secretary of the PRD and also a victim. said that Martinelli's detention in Miami is "a very important step" in order to finally face Panamanian justice. But he also added the process is just beginning.

Doens acknowledged that this may take several days or weeks, but he hopes that "in the end this will be resolved in favor of all those who were victims."

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