Former Panamanian President Arrested In Miami

Former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli — accused by his country of corruption and spying on political opponents — was arrested at his residence near Miami late on Monday, local media reported.

Martinelli, detained at his home in Coral Gables south of Miami, is being held in federal prison and faces extradition to Panama, the Miami Herald quoted the US Marshals Service as saying.

Martinelli will appear in federal court Tuesday morning, the newspaper said.

Panama’s Supreme Court ordered his arrest in 2015 over accusations that he used public funds to illegally spy on telephone calls and emails of more than 150 prominent opponents.

Martinelli denies the accusations, saying they are politically motivated. A supermarket tycoon, he governed from 2009 to 2014.

Panama made a request for his extradition last year.

The international police agency Interpol issued a “red notice” on the government’s request last month.

Panamanian authorities have opened some 200 investigations into Martinelli’s administration, according to Transparency International.

Allegations include accusations that he helped embezzle $45 million from a government school-lunch program, as well as other cases of extortion, bribe-taking, misappropriation of public funds and abuse of power.

Martinelli has lived in Miami since January 2015 after leaving Panama days before the Supreme Court launched a corruption investigation against him.

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