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Ex-prez Martinelli extradited from US to Panama for trial

13 June 2018

On Friday, President Juan Carlos Verla said the U.S. State Department had approved his request to extradite his predecessor.

Martinelli was transferred to the hospital from the El Renacer prison at midnight Monday after receiving permission from the judge handling his case. He faces embezzlement charges and allegations he wiretapped judges, political rivals and others while in office. "I especially thank the hard-working attorneys and worldwide affairs specialists in the Office of global Affairs, as well as our partners in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District Florida, for their tireless efforts in support of this extradition".

In May 2017, Interpol issued an arrest warrant for Martinelli with a so-called "red notice", a request to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition. In August 2017 a United States magistrate judge ruled that Martinelli would be sent back to Panama. Martinelli appealed the decision but was rejected by the Southern District of Florida. The court denied his petition in January 2018.

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Panamanian authorities said Martinelli was extradited at 8:44 a.m. (1344 GMT).

Martinelli is accused of spying on the telephone calls of more than 150 people, including journalists and politicians.

Panama's former President Ricardo Martinelli has been extradited to his homeland from the United States, where he has been held on charges of political espionage and corruption, one of his lawyers said.

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Martinelli's attorney Roniel Ortiz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

With the extradition now complete, Martinelli's case will now move forward in the Panamanian legal system. "Our Office is committed to upholding the rule of law and ensuring that justice is appropriately carried out for all parties".

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Ex-prez Martinelli extradited from US to Panama for trial