Panama: trial for money laundering of ex-president Martinelli

The trial of former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli in one of the money laundering and corruption cases for which he is indicted, opened Tuesday in a court in Panama and could constitute an obstacle to his candidacy in 2024 for a new mandate at the head of the country.

Mr. Martinelli, along with 14 other co-defendants, is accused of having bought in 2010 with public money the majority of the shares of the press group Editora Panama America, owner of the eponymous daily as well as the popular newspapers Critica and Dia a Dia.

According to the prosecutor’s office, the press group was purchased through a complex arrangement of public limited companies into whose accounts various companies had deposited a total of 43.9 million dollars derived from bribes obtained during the auction of public works under the presidency of Ricardo Martinelli, from 2009 to 2014.

The populist ex-president did not show up for the hearing, which was broadcast live on the official Panamanian justice website. His lawyers produced in court a medical certificate stating that he had recently undergone spinal surgery.

The former head of state, a prosperous 71-year-old businessman who notably owns a chain of supermarkets, proclaims his innocence, assures that he has never touched “an ill-gotten penny” and shouts at the “political trial” intended to prevent him from running in the May 2024 elections.

Mr. Martinelli is also indicted in another bribery case as part of the sprawling corruption case of several heads of state and governments in South America by the Brazilian construction group, Odebrecht.

He is also being prosecuted in another case of commissions received to facilitate the obtaining of public contracts during his presidential mandate.

The former president is favored for next year’s election by several opinion polls. However, the majority of the parties have not yet nominated their candidates, who will have to go through the primaries.

Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by

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