The US detains the children of former President Martinelli accused of money laundering
On July 3, the United States requested Guatemala to arrest the brothers Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares , sons of former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), who have been detained on charges of “conspiracy to commit money laundering.”
The Guatemalan Foreign Ministry explained that the request was made last Friday through the US embassy in his country, on behalf of the Donald Trump government , and that same day it was transferred to the relevant authorities.
The Ministry of Foreign Relations specified that the US request to Guatemala was for “provisional arrest with a view to timely presenting a formal request for the extradition of Messrs. Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares .”
Both are accused, according to the same source, of “possible commission of the crime of conspiracy to commit money laundering . “
The Guatemalan Public Ministry (MP, Prosecutor’s Office) reported on its communication channels that, after the capture of the two Panamanian citizens, it is “awaiting what the competent judge decides at the respective hearing, within a possible request for formal extradition by the US government . “
The Martinelli brothers were trying to leave Guatemala for Panama by air when authorities detained them before noon on Monday, according to the spokesman for the National Civil Police, Jorge Aguilar.
Aguilar explained that the two detainees, with dual Italian and Panamanian nationality , are accused of “conspiracy to commit money laundering involving specific activity under the United States code.”
Guatemalan security forces transferred both Panamanian citizens to the Tower of Courts, in the center of Guatemala City, for their first statement and to inform them of the reason for their arrest.
Ricardo Martinelli Linares, 40, and Luis , 38, who had been missing for approximately twelve months , were arrested at La Aurora International Airport, where they were going to take a flight back to their country, Aguilar said.
The Martinelli brothers are suspected of having received bribes for $ 55.8 million from Odebrecht to expedite payments to the company, according to the allegations of André Rabello, who led the operations of the Brazilian firm in Panama for several years, revealed by the Prosecutor’s Office.
Both are also implicated in the “Blue Apple” scandal , a plot similar to Odebretch’s but with Panamanian companies.
The Guatemalan Police spokesman asserted that the capture of the two sons of former President Martinelli took place after being identified by agents of the “Transnational Anti-Gang Center, a police unit that has a Central American connection and with international agencies.”
According to the Ministry of the Interior (Interior), the two brothers have “an arrest warrant for the multi-person criminal first instance court on duty in Guatemala,” with an extradition order from the United States, signed by Judge Shirlly Johanna Maldonado. Velásquez on July 3.
The Guatemalan authorities explained that “these people have been carrying out surveillance and monitoring work since June 30 of this year, having classified information that they would be leaving the country today,” supposedly heading for Panama.
THE ROLE OF DEPUTIES IN THE CENTRAL AMERICAN PARLIAMENT
The two brothers indicated to the local National Civil Police “to be alternate deputies to the Central American Parliament” for Panama and showed their “diplomatic cards number 0556 and 0557” from the period of July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2024, both “dated on July 25, 2019 “.
Both Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique were appointed as alternate deputies to the Central American Parliament in June 2019, by the political groups Cambio Democrático and Alianza, respectively.
The Central American Parliament , based in Guatemala, indicated through a spokesman that both are alternate legislators of the regional body, but could not confirm that they have immunity for it.