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Panama ex-president’s son extradited to US on graft charges

Guatemala – The son of Panama’s ex-president Ricardo Martinelli was extradited yesterday from Guatemala, where he was detained, to the United States to face charges of corruption involving Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, officials said.

Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares was flown out of Guatemala City, where he had been held in a military prison, on a private jet bound for New York.

Martinelli and his brother Ricardo Alberto were arrested at Guatemala Airport in 2020, at Washington’s request, as they sought to board a flight to Panama.

Both are wanted by the American justice system for allegedly having allowed millions of dollars to be paid into secret bank accounts in the name of ghost companies.

Investigations into Odebrecht has tarnished many leaders and political parties in Latin America. Former bosses of the company have admitted in court having illegally distributed millions of dollars of bribes in exchange for public contracts.

Former president Martinelli is himself under investigation in the Odebrecht scandal, but has announced his intention to seek re-election in 2024.

Luis Enrique’s extradition was approved by a Guatemalan judge in May. His brother should be sent to the United States within days after his own extradition was approved last week. — AFP

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