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Panama’s Ex President Heirs Join Regional Body Despite Charges

The Central American Parliament (Parlacen) swore in as alternate deputies two sons of the former Panamanian president, Ricardo Martinelli, despite having pending trials in their country and having served sentences in the United States for money laundering.

Ricardo and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares “have already been sworn in, assuming with the formality requested for the position to which they were elected,” said Luis Eduardo Camacho, spokesperson for former President Martinelli, this Thursday on Telemetro channel.

The sons of the former president were virtually sworn in by the state of Panama as alternate deputies of Parlacen, during a session held at the headquarters of this regional body in Nicaragua.

The Martinelli brothers “plead for the swearing-in” and “on this occasion, they will be admitted as alternate deputies of the Central American Parliament,” said the president of the board of directors of this regional body, Panamanian Amado Cerrud, during the event held on Wednesday night, according to television footage.

Being deputies of Parlacen would allow the former president’s sons to have criminal jurisdiction, so they could not be tried in a regular court for the money laundering cases they have pending.

However, Camacho denied that the brothers are seeking immunity. “The suspicion lies in the fact that their last name is Martinelli,” Camacho pointed out.

Ricardo and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares are called to trial, along with their father, for alleged money laundering for the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

Additionally, they are also implicated in the scandal known as “Blue Apple,” a scheme to collect commissions to expedite contracts during Martinelli’s government (2009-2014).

Both served two and a half years of sentence in the United States last January for receiving 28 million dollars in bribes from Odebrecht.

The Martinelli brothers were elected in 2019 as deputies to Parlacen, but they were never sworn in. Martinelli’s sons had already tried to be sworn in twice at the Panamanian headquarters of Parlacen, but they failed to achieve their goal due to a lack of quorum.

Martinelli sought to remove Panama from Parlacen during his administration because, according to the former president, this regional body is “a den of thieves” that facilitates immunity.

Parlacen, whose decisions are not binding for the member countries, is made up of deputies from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Panama.

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