Panama’s former president has criticized his successor for granting and upholding asylum for the former director of Colombia’s intelligence agency, DAS.
Former Panamanian President Martin Torrijos said that current President Ricardo Martinelli owes an explanation to his citizens regarding the decision to uphold the asylum granted to Maria del Pilar Hurtado, despite the warrant for her arrest issued by Colombian authorities, Caracol Radio reported Monday.
“I would not have given asylum to Hurtado,” Torrijos said, at the inauguration of the International Socialist Committee in Bucaramanga, the capital of the Santander department.
“If it were my administration, Ms. Maria del Pilar Hurtado would not be in Panama. It seems she will remain in asylum and this is regrettable,” said the ex-president, according to newspaper El Tiempo.
He added that prior to the case against the ex-DAS director, bilateral relations between the neighboring countries focused on a wide range of issues, but are now limited to this one judicial issue.
Del Pilar Hurtado was granted political asylum by Panama in November 2010 and on May 4, President Martinelli promised to uphold it.
On May 24, a Colombian judge ruled that there was sufficient reason for Del Pilar Hurtado to await trial in jail, and that Del Pilar Hurtado’s fleeing of the country justified an arrest warrant and, in turn, an extradition request.
Both Del PilarHurtado and Samuel Moreno, former chief of staff under the Uribe administration have been charged for their roles in the intelligence body’s wiretapping scandal, in which political opponents, among others, were illegally spied on by DAS officials.