Life and times of the fall guy; will Lavitola turn evidence against Martinelli?

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All the newspapers carried the news that Valter Lavitola, who is being prosecuted in several cases of corruption, some of those involving Panama, has cut some sort of deal with the prosecution in one of those cases. He admits to be guilty of "international corruption" and will get a sentence of only 11 months in jail. In the same case, he has been charged with extortion, but on that charge no deal has been made, say the reports.

The "guilty" part concerns the now infamous trip that Martinelli and his entourage got as a present to the Italian island of Sardinia, where they stayed at one of Europe's most exclusive and expensive resorts and, as the story goes, bunga bunga parties were held.

Lavitola has been in detention - at home and in jail - since April 2011 after he fled from Panama to Brazil and the surrendered himself to the Italian authorities. Being locked away and facing various trials in serious corruption cases have had an impact on his psychological and physical well-being, newspapers report. Supposedly, that - and the fact that new charges continue to be brought against him - has caused him to finally negotiate and get a deal.

But a deal is not just confessing and that's it. There must be something in it for the prosecutors, or they wouldn't have piled up charges against Lavitola in the first place to increase pressure on him.

The exact conditions of the deal are not yet known. But in the audience at the trial, reports La Prensa, sat one Santiago Fascetto, a personal friend of Ricardo Martinelli and former sub-director of newspaper concern EPASA, owned by Martinelli. Mr. Fascetto paid very close attention to the proceedings and talked to the defense lawyers when the court session was over.

No doubt Fascetto was as curious as we are if his friend, Ricardo Martinelli, will be among the next to sit in that court room and listen to Valter Lavitola - testifying against the former Panamanian president.

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