Won't you please come home, President Martinelli ! Panama's mercurial president, on tour in Asia, appears to be delaying his return to his country indefinitely, perhaps forgetting that Panamanian law mandates presidential absences which exceed ten days allow the Vice President to take over. He has been in close contact with his advisers in the Republic of Panama, whose attention is firmly fixed upon the exploding Finmeccanica corruption scandal in Italy, which will most likely result in his indictment for receiving $15m in kickbacks, for directing a lucrative national security contract to Finmeccanica, the Italian aviation company that is 30% owned by the government.
To put it directly, Martinelli is afraid of being arrested when his aircraft is en route Panama. A former senior company officer has already been arrested in Italy, and former Italian Economic Development Minister Scajola has been implicated in corruption, in a widening enquiry that also alleges corruption, including kickbacks with government contracts in Brazil.
According to Italian prosecutors, witness testimony, and the evidence, shows that a corporation controlled by Martinelli received the money, which was deposited into accounts outside Panama, in three different countries. It is not known whether President Martinelli is wanted by Italy, nor whether arrest warrants have been issued.
|Under arrest in Italy, he dealt with President Martinelli
Meanwhile, Colón, a Panamanian city on the Caribbean coast, burns, as the public continues to protest in the streets, over the illegal sale of public land in the Free Trade Zone. If there ever was a time when Panama needed its president at the helm, it is this week, but he is absent without leave.