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News > Panama

Panama: Former President Martinelli To Serve 10 Years in Prison

  • Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli (L), 2023.

    Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli (L), 2023. | Photo: X/ @ElPaisAmericaCo

Published 2 February 2024

The Supreme Court's Criminal Chamber rejected his appeal to annul a sentence handed down in 2023.

On Friday, the Supreme Justice Court upheld the sentence of 10 years and 6 months in prison for money laundering imposed on former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014).


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The Second Criminal Chamber rejected a cassation appeal filed by his lawyers in a last attempt to invalidate the sentence issued in July 2023.

The confirmed sentence makes the 71-year-old politician the first former president to be convicted and sentenced to prison for corruption in the country's democratic history. It also disqualifies Martinelli from running as a presidential candidate in the May elections.

The unprecedented conviction against Martinelli in the case known as "New Business," involving the purchase of Editorial Panama America (Epasa) with public funds, also requires him to pay a fine of US$19.2 million, as stated in the 2023 sentence from the Liquidating Court of Criminal Cases, presided over by Judge Baloisa Marquinez.

This judge also ordered the dissolution of two companies, the confiscation of the editorial house's shares, and the administration of its movable and immovable assets.

In the "New Business" case, whose investigation began in 2017, four individuals were also convicted of money laundering, while 10 citizens were acquitted.

For the Epasa acquisition, US$44 million were collected in December 2010, according to the prosecution. They assert that Martinelli contacted contractors, contributed money, and benefited from the operation as the holder of 60 percent of the editorial's shares.

Martinelli also faces charges of money laundering in the Odebrecht bribery case, whose trial has been postponed several times and is expected to finally begin this year.

The text reads, "The brothers Luis Enrique and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli, sons of former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli, will be released on Wednesday from the Allenwood Low Prison. They were convicted in May 2022 for the Odebrecht corruption case."

In the Odebrech case, two of Martinelli's sons, who are legislators of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen), will also face a special trial.

They have already served prison time in the United States after admitting to receiving US$28 million in bribes from the Brazilian construction company and on orders from their father.

In Spain, Martinelli is being investigated in two cases: one involving corruption through bribes paid by the Spanish company FCC and another for espionage on a woman in Mallorca.

In January 2023, the United States sanctioned former President Martinelli, accusing him of being involved in "large-scale corruption."

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