Ricardo Martinelli

Complete chronology of the illegal eavesdropping case against Ex- President Ricardo Martinelli

In December 2015, the Supreme Court of Justice of Panama, along with nine full judges, approved the order of “preventive detention” for former President Ricardo Martinelli, who fulfilled his mandate during the 2009-2014 presidential term.

This was the result of illegal wiretapping about 200 opponents working in his administration and the ex-president described as “a political persecution” by the current Government of Panama.

Today, we present a complete chronology of the criminal cases still open by the Supreme Court of Panama against Martinelli, which is the only body authorized to prosecute him for being a member of the Central American Parliament:


  • July 30: “I’m not leaving forever, this is not a farewell. We will come back “Affirms the former president when leaving the government of the country.
  • July 1: Juan Carlos Varela, who was vice president and chancellor during the Martinelli administration and until August 2011, assumed the presidency. At the same time, Ricardo Martinelli is sworn in as deputy of the Parlacen.
  • November 22: The ex-president sustains that he is not afraid by the fact that the justice carries out a scrutiny of its management because he has nothing to hide.


  • January 12: Alejandro Garúz and Gustavo Pérez, both ex-directors of the National Security Council during the term of Ricardo Martinelli, are arrested and charged with alleged illegal wiretapping.
  • January 13: It is announced by the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office in Panama that former President Martinelli will be investigated by the Supreme Court for alleged purchases overprice of dehydrated food through the National Assistance Program (PAN), after being mentioned by Giacomo Tamburelli, former director of this body during his arrest and interrogation at the Prosecutor’s Office.
  • January 14: The declaration of Tamburelli, in which Martinelli is accused of ordering the purchase of alleged food, is sent to the Supreme Court.
  • January 28: While Martinelli leaves Panama to attend a meeting of the Parlacen in Guatemala, the Supreme Court admits a criminal case against him for the case of dehydrated food and he announces that he is a victim of “political persecution”.
  • January 29: Martinelli affirms from Guatemala that in Panama “there are no guarantees, since the process is not respected and there are no laws” and that if he returned to the country, he would do so if due process was respected and there were no pressures from current president, Juan Carlos Valera.
  • January 29: An anti-corruption demonstration is held in the capital of Panama, where they demand the imprisonment of the former president and officials of his administration.
  • February 3: The Attorney General issues the 5 complaints regarding wiretaps that have been sent to the Supreme Court against former President Martinelli.
  • February 13: The SCJ legally declares the provisional detention of ex-directors of the National Security Council, who had already been questioned and investigated by illegal wiretaps.
  • March 2: Two legal remedies that postpone the advance of the criminal case against Martinelli on January 28 by the Supreme Court of Panama are rejected.
  • March 10: The supreme makes a request to the Electoral Tribunal to lift the electoral jurisdiction of the former president, for being leader of the opposition Democratic Change party, to investigate the case of the purchase of food, but the application is returned for errors in the format.
  • April 23: Finally, the Supreme Court of Panama receives notification of the electoral court for the lifting of the criminal law, in order to begin the investigation.
  • April 30: Investigation process begins against Ricardo Martinelli.
  • June 8: Another criminal case is opened against Martinelli after admitting some of the complaints filed against him in the case of illegal wiretapping.
  • July 3: Another criminal process is contracted for pardons granted at the end of his term.
  • July 15: The former president denounces $ 10 million to 6 magistrates of the highest court for abuse of power and for violating his alleged innocence.
  • August 3: The electoral criminal court is removed from Martinelli to be investigated by illegal wiretaps.
  • September 18: The criminal case against the former president is accepted for the purchase of rice with a higher price.
  • September 23: Two new criminal cases are allowed, the first for a million dollar fraud that was carried out through the Financial Pacific and the second for an alleged receipt of bribes by a tax collector called Cobranzas del Istmo, SA
  • October 9: Harry Díaz, magistrate and prosecutor in the case of the wiretaps, files an indictment against Ricardo Martinelli, where he seeks a 21-year sentence.
  • November 13: The ex-president is summoned by the Supreme Court to declare on December 11.
  • December 11: Ricardo Martinelli presents himself at the court hearing before Judge Jerónimo Mejía and declares himself “in rebellion”. For his part, Harry Diaz prosecutor of the case requests the full detention.
  • December 21: Provisional detention of the former president is authorized.
  • December 23: A habeas corpus refusal is filed by the defense to revoke this arrest warrant.


  • January 28: The accused former president spent one year out of Panamanian territory.
  • February 12: The defense resources are rejected and the arrest warrant is declared legal.
  • February 15: Martinelli underwent a cardiac surgery in a clinic located in Miami, however he is in perfect health.
  • May 26: Martinelli’s extradition order is sent for the wiretapping case, from the Supreme Court to the Panama Chancellery.
  • June 28: Mejía, judge of the case asks the Interpol to issue a red alert of capture against the former president.
  • August 20: The request for extradition is returned because the statement of prosecutor Diaz is missing.
  • September 15: The full Supreme Court asks the tax magistrate to attach his affidavit to send documents to the Foreign Ministry.
  • September 20: The opposition DC party is highly favored in the survey, where a large number of citizens stated that they would not vote for another party to have elections at that time.
  • September 27: Through the Embassy in Washington, the Foreign Ministry of Panama formally requested the arrest of Ricardo Martinelli for illegal wiretapping to the United States, which is described by Luis Eduardo Camacho, Panamanian former president of “not to prosper”.
  • September 28: Martinelli does not trust the United States to comply with extradition orders and calls the Varela government “slow, inept and corrupt”.


  • January 18: Mitchell Doens, former Secretary-General of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, asks the public prosecutor’s office to investigate the former president and two of his children for links to bribes with Odebrecht, to which the DC party requests to investigate all contracts with the company in Panama and not only those of its management.
  • February 2: Another case is opened against the ex-president for peculation to the detriment of the State Savings Bank.
  • February 13: The Public Ministry resubmits an application to Interpol, but this time to place a red alert on Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, children of the former president who are implicated with 17 other people for bribes from Odebrecht .
  • February 22: Evelyn Vargas, who is the lawyer related to the former president and also charged with money laundering with the construction company, arrives in Panama from Mexico to surrender voluntarily.
  • April 28: It is reported that Martinelli did not appear before the Consulate of Panama in Miami to be notified of the criminal case.
  • May 10: Martinelli’s hearing adjourned until June 14 to offer a new opportunity to appear.
  • May 22: Interpol announces the dissemination of its red alert for the search and capture of the accused.
  • June 12: Martinelli is finally captured in Miami based on information from his lawyer Alma Cortés, and required in Panama for illegal wiretapping.

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