US extradites Panama ex-President Martinelli

Panama’s former president to be extradited home Monday: lawyer

On May 15 he asked the State Department to deny the extradition request, saying that he would be tortured in Panama.

Panama's President Ricardo Martinelli addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in NY, U.S. on September 25, 2013.

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.

"On June 11, 2018, pursuant to the extradition treaty between the United States of America and the Republic of Panama, the United States extradited the former President of Panama Ricardo Martinelli to face criminal charges in Panama", the release said.

A handcuffed Martinelli, escorted by US Marshals, greeted reporters gathered to see him off at the airport. Panama qualified for the tournament, which begins on Thursday.

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A justice of the highest court in Panama issued an arrest warrant for Martinelli in December 2015, and a USA judge ruled that he could be extradited in August 2017.

Federal agencies say the 66-year-old lived in Coral Gables, but other sources, like Newsroom Panama link him to a home on Brickell Avenue in Miami's Financial District.

His return to Panama comes at a time of political turbulence as the country prepares for general elections in May. They did not give details of his arrival, but dozens of Martinelli's supporters gathered at the Tocumen global airport, waving flags of the political party the former president founded, local television footage showed.

Martinelli is barred by term limits from running for president before 2024, but he hopes to run for a mayorship or a congressional seat, his spokesman Luis Eduardo Camacho has said.

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