Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

Ricardo Martinelli has been accused of eavesdropping on more than 150 people, including politicians and journalists.

Former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli has been acquitted on charges of tapping the phones of political opponents and journalists while in power.

Martinelli, who served as president from 2009 to 2014, stood trial in July after being acquitted of similar charges in 2019.

He was also accused of embezzling public funds to spy on his opponents when he led the country, and the prosecution accused him of eavesdropping on more than 150 people, including politicians and journalists.

But the court ruled Tuesday that the prosecutor’s testimony against Martinelli was insufficient.

“In the end, justice was done,” the 69-year-old said as he left the court. “Seven years of this torture. I thank God and the Panamanian legal system. I suffered a lot. “

Carlos Herrera Moran, a lawyer for one of the victims of the alleged eavesdropping, said the decision was “outside the law and the evidence presented”.

Martinelli was extradited of the United States in 2018 to stand trial in Panama.

In August 2019, he was acquitted on charges of espionage and embezzlement and released from custody. The court found that prosecutors had violated the proper process after a five-month trial and also criticized the prosecutor’s testimony.

But the Panamanian government won on appeal, arguing that there were sufficient elements for a new trial, which began in July.

As president, Martinelli allegedly spent millions of dollars on sophisticated Israeli spy equipment, including spyware. Pegasus.

NSO Group, the Israeli firm behind that spyware, has been re-investigating in recent weeks after a investigation revealed by international media outlets Pegasus has been used by security forces and authoritarian governments in several countries.

US President Joe Biden’s Administration Also sanctioned NSO Group last week accused the Israeli company of enabling “transnational oppression” with its spyware.

NSO Group rejected the criticism, saying its products were aimed at helping authorities fight criminals and “terrorists”.

Martinelli, the owner of a supermarket chain, hopes to be able to run for the presidency again in 2024. He described the charges against him as political persecution and an attempt to stop him from running again.

He rose to the presidency in 2009 after winning an election campaign in which he delivered a speech exposing corruption and the country’s political class.

He was later mentioned in the “Pandora Papers”Investigates the creation of foreign shell companies that are meant to hide money in tax havens, but denies involvement in anything unnecessary.

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