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News > Panama

Panama: Martinelli Faces New Trial for Political Espionage

  • Former President Ricardo Martinelli during a press conference, Panama City, Panama, July 21, 2021.

    Former President Ricardo Martinelli during a press conference, Panama City, Panama, July 21, 2021. | Photo: EFE

Published 22 July 2021
Opinion

The ex-President faces two legal charges for intercepting telecommunications of 150 businessmen, journalists, rival politicians, and allies.

The Panamanian Prosecutor’s Office initiated a new trial against former president Ricardo Martinelli for political espionage during his term (2009-2014). He did not attend the first and second summons of this case, claiming that he had to take medical rest for a spinal operation.

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Martinelli faces two legal charges for intercepting telecommunications of about 150 businessmen, journalists, rival politicians, and even allies. In the case known as "Punctures", he plaid not guilty in the first trial in August 2019.

At the time of reopening the political espionage case, the Prosecutor's Office requested new and more thorough investigations to prevent the former President from evading justice once again. If this new process has an unfavorable outcome for Martinelli, he could face up to eight years in prison.

Currently, Martinelli is using his Achieving Goals (RM) party to promote himself as a possible presidential candidate for the 2024 elections. For this reason, he alleges trials against him are part of a political persecution strategy.

Besides being accused of illegal wiretapping, Martinelli faces charges for money laundering and use of public funds in case linked to the Odebrecht construction company. Due to this investigation, Panama’s Justice prevent him from leaving the country.

Spain’s Supreme Court also ordered to investigate Martinelli in a case involving the Promotion of Constructions and Contracts (FCC) group. This international case is related to international money laundering and corruption.

Since 2020, his sons, Ricardo and Luis, have been detained in Guatemala, where they await a U.S. extradition demand for the bribes they received from the Brazilian company Odebrecht.

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