Spanish version

JUDICIAL AFFAIRS

Justice seeks to avoid ruling on Martinelli case

He was appointed to decide a writ of habeas corpus filed by the former president.

Spanish version

Temas:

Alternate Supreme Court Justice Efrén Tello has appealed the decision to appoint him to rule on the writ of habeas corpus filed by former President Ricardo Martinelli to prevent his arrest in the case involving illegal surveillance he allegedly ordered while in office.

Judicial sources reported that yesterday that Tello sent a request to the plenary of the court to remove him from the case. He was appointed to office by Martinelli.

If the request is accepted, the plenary would have to choose "a special alternate" to issue a ruling on the appeal, filed by Rogelio Cruz, one of the former president's defense lawyers. That person would be chosen from the rest of the alternate judges.

The petition had initially been assigned to Luis Ramón Fábrega, who also recused himself from the case because he had acted as the chairman of the plenary session that ordered the provisional detention of Martinelli.

Cruz has also filed a motion to disqualify the judges who appeared at the hearing that resulted in the arrest order for Martinelli. He said that the motion is based on the same argument used by Fabrega to recuse himself, saying it would be applicable to all judges.

So far, defense attorneys for Martinelli have presented 16 motions seeking to block the case from moving forward.

Administrative Prosecutor Rigoberto González warned that the excessive motions could be construed as an abuse.

"Unfortunately the Panamanian legislation does not establish strong sanctions against those who used these tactics," he said.

Carlos Herrera Morán, a lawyer for a victim in the case, said the argument used by Tello is "strange," and said it could be seen as another attempt to delay the case.

"Some magistrates are joining the delaying tactics being used by the defense lawyers," he said.

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