Panama City, Feb 2 (EFE).- A 10-year prison sentence against former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) was upheld on Friday when the Supreme Court rejected an appeal for annulment, the defense’s last remaining legal recourse.
The decision makes Martinelli, 71, the first former president of Panama to be sentenced to prison for corruption in the country’s democratic history, and disqualifies him from running again in the May 5 elections with his new party, Accomplishing Goals (RM).
Martinelli was convicted in July of money laundering in the case known as “New Business” for the purchase of Editorial Panamá América S.A. (Epasa) with public funds.
The ruling also ordered him to pay a fine of $19.2 million, “the dissolution of two companies and the confiscation of shares in a publishing house for the benefit of the state.”
In addition to Martinelli, the verdict found four other defendants guilty and acquitted ten others.
Prosecutors began investigating the case in 2017, alleging that Martinelli “contacted contractors, contributed money” and was a “beneficiary” as “holder of 60% of the shares” of the publishing house.
Martinelli says he is a “politically persecuted man” because he is also facing money laundering charges in a case involving bribes from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
The court trial for this case has been postponed several times and is expected to finally begin this year.
In the Odebrecht case, two of Martinelli’s sons, deputies in the Central American Parliament, will also face a separate trial.
They have already served prison sentences in the United States after admitting that they received US$28 million in bribes from the Brazilian construction company on their father’s orders, according to the judicial version.
Martinelli, is also being investigated in Spain in another case of alleged corruption for bribes paid by the Spanish construction company FCC in Panama, and in a separate case for spying on a woman in Mallorca.
In January 2023, the US government sanctioned former President Martinelli, accusing him of being involved in “large-scale corruption”. EFE