Wednesday, 20 June, 2018


Panama ex-President Martinelli hospitalized, 'stable'

Former Panamanian president Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal Former Panamanian president Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal
Bennie Garza | 13 June, 2018, 21:03

Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli returned home Monday to face political espionage and embezzlement charges after being extradited from the United States.

Martinelli was jailed in the United States past year after Panama requested his extradition on charges that he used public money to spy on more than 150 political rivals during his 2009-2014 term.

Martinelli's attorneys filed a motion on May 24 in a Miami court to stop the appeal of the ruling on its shipment to Panama. Martinelli had initially contested his extradition in the USA, but dropped his appeals.

On Monday a handcuffed Martinelli, escorted by US Marshals, greeted reporters gathered to see him off at the Miami-area airport.

He has been accused of using public funds to monitor the phone calls of more than 150 people, including politicians and journalists. Panama qualified for the tournament, which begins on Thursday.

Under a 1905 extradition treaty, he can only be tried in Panama for the crimes alleged in the request.

Martinelli was taken into custody near his home in the USA state of Florida in June 2017 after Panama requested his extradition on charges that he used public money to spy on more than 150 political rivals during his 2009-2014 term.

Panamanian authorities said Martinelli will be held at the Renacer prison outside Panama City.

The International Police issued Red Alert in April 2017 for the capture of Martinelli, who communicated with Panama through social networks and videos, in which he insisted on his innocence and being a victim of political persecution.

His return to Panama comes at a time of political turbulence as the country prepares for general elections in May.

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