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  • Former President Ricardo Martinelli faces multiple corruption charges.

    Former President Ricardo Martinelli faces multiple corruption charges. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 December 2015

Former President Ricardo Martinelli is accused of corruption, embezzlement, and using public funds to spy on political rivals while he was in office.

Panama’s Supreme Court is set to decide on Tuesday whether to accept an appeal by former President Ricardo Martinelli to overturn the warrant for his arrest ordered last week over accusations of embezzlement and illegal use of public funds for spying on rivals.

The Supreme Court plenary session started on Monday, but had to be extended for a second day to allow judges to reach a decision. The sessions is scheduled to wrap up with a decision by late Tuesday afternoon.

The appeal process comes after the country’s high court issued a warrant on Dec. 21 to detain Martinelli – president from 2009 to 2014 – while investigations into charges of corruption and illegal espionage continue.

WATCH: Panama Supreme Court Orders Martinelli’s Detention

But Martinelli’s legal team filed an appeal in order for the legal basis of the arrest to be reconsidered. According to EFE, Marinelli’s lawyer Rogelio Cruz said the appeal is “an opportunity for the court to amend a mistake.”

Accusations against Martinelli include embezzlement, selling pardons, insider trading, and running an illegal political espionage ring using public funds to spy on at least 150 people while he was president.

ANALYSIS: Will Corruption Take Down More US Allies in Latin America?

Martinelli fled the country in January 2015 just before the Supreme Court launched the investigation into corruption allegations. He exiled himself in Miami, where he filed for political asylum.

The former president has denied any wrongdoing and his defense claims the legal process is irregular and a form of political persecution.

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela served as Martinelli’s vice president from 2009 to 2014 before a falling out between the two politicians.

WATCH: Former President Martinelli’s Immunity Removed

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