Panama: Justice orders the arrest of Martinelli, asylum seeker in Nicaragua

CITY OF PANAMA_ A Panamanian judge ordered the arrest of former president Ricardo Martinelli, asylum in the embassy of Nicaragua since two weeks.

After losing his last appeal to avoid a sentence of almost 11 years in prison, the judiciary reported on Thursday.

Judge Baloísa Marquínez “ordered the preventive detention of a former president of the Republic within the process followed by the crime against the economic order in the form of money laundering, in the so-called New Business case,” the judiciary indicated in a statement, without mentioning the name of the former president who governed between 2009 and 2014.

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Martinelli requests asylum in Nicaragua

Martinelli requested asylum at the Nicaraguan embassy citing a “imminent danger to his life”, according to his spokesperson. His lawyers claim that his arrest would be politically motivated.

The former president was convicted for his participation in the purchase of shares in a newspaper with money from bribes in public works. He also faces another trial for alleged laundering of bribes paid by Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. Two of his sons are serving a sentence in the United States for the same case.

Martinelli’s defense argued that his arrest and conviction are politically motivated and that he was seeking asylum to protect his life. However, Panamanian authorities rejected this claim and maintain that his legal proceedings were carried out fairly and in accordance with the law.