Panama's former President, Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal, has reportedly purchased a large estate in a remote area of Paraguay, and staffed it with sufficient armed security to foil any attempts to arrest or kill him. He has good reason to fear capture, for while president, Martinelli used Panama's new state-of-the-art communication interception systerm for personal financial, as well as sexual, gain, against powerful Panamanians, and foreign nationals doing business in Panama. He also intercepted communications traffic emanating from a number of foreign embassies in Panama City, and is believed responsible for ordering at least four homicides during his tenure.
The surveillance system, which was purchased for the Government of Panama, exclusively for national security use, cost $40m. The mandatory legislative approval was not obtained. The system consists of five independent portable, self-contained operating systems in suitcases, each with the necessary hardware and software to intercept all telephone and Internet communications. It includes a Circles geo-location system, for mobile telephones, a Skype trojan system, and a biometric voice system, with the ability to identify callers by their vocal patterns.
According to a well-known foreign information source*, Martinelli then sold off two of the systems, to unknown private purchasers, one each in Cuba and in Venezuela, and pocketed the proceeds of sale. His staff, under his direct orders, used the system to spy upon Panama's banks, obtaining financial information regarding substantial accounts hold by foreign nationals, who were then blackmailed or extorted into paying a "commission" under threat of official confiscation of the funds, as criminal assets.
The most despicable use that Martinelli made of the surveillance system was to employ it against the wives and daughters of his own ministers, to coerce them into sexual liaisons with him, and threatening to expose their own private affairs in public, if they did not submit. Whether he will ever be charged with sexual battery is doubtful, through, as the victims will probably never wish to testify.
Since leaving office, Martinelli's associates absconded with the three remaining surveillance systems, where they continue to conduct illegal eavesdropping operations against Panamanians, reportedly from outside the country.
Will the Italian government now bring formal charges against Martinelli, since he has been accused of receiving massive kickbacks, from agents for government-owned Italian companies, to facilitate the sales of goods and services to the Republic of Panama ? Court testimony to date, from Italy, has been damning against Martinelli. Or will the country's new reformist government, led by President Varela, seek justice for the people of Panama ? Since leaving office, Martinelli has made death threats against a number of Panamanians, and as long as he remains at large, those threats pose a real danger to those individuals.
* The source has been identified as Maximilian.