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JUDICIAL AFFAIRS

Martinelli's lawyer fails to show for hearing

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Judge José Ayú Prado at hearing today. Judge José Ayú Prado at hearing today.
Judge José Ayú Prado at hearing today. LA PRENSA/Isaac Ortega

The hearing of charges against ex-President Ricardo Martinelli, currently detained in Miami, could not be held Wednesday because his lawyers did not appear.

Judge José Ayú Prado rescheduled the hearing for next Wednesday and warned that if Martinelli's lawyers do not appear, he will appoint a public defender. 

The hearing is part of the case involving 355 pardons granted by Martinelli in June 2014, shortly before completing his term. Martinelli is being investigated for the alleged commission of crimes against public administration. 

In a note dated yesterday, Martinelli lawyer Sidney Sittón said that he could not attend the hearing because he had to travel to Miami, where his client has been imprisoned for two days. Martinelli was taken into custody on an extradition request by Panama on another case involving illegal surveillance. 

Sittón has only been on the case for two days, according to a note sent by Mario Martinelli, the former president's brother, to the Supreme Court. 

On May 10, at a hearing requested by prosecutor Abel Zamorano, the former president was represented by another lawyer. Sittón appeared only as "spokesperson." 

On that day, Zamorano asked Ayú Prado to declare Martinelli "in default" since he did not appear even though he was duly notified. Ayú Prado denied the request and chose to declare a "recess" until today to give Martinelli a chance to appear personally and hear the charges against him.

Martinelli is currently in a federal detention center waiting to be extradited to Panama. His lawyers are seeking bail, an issue which will be decided at a hearing Tuesday.

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