Sons of Ex-Panamanian President Released from Prison

Sons of Ex-Panamanian President Released from Prison
Last updated Jan 26, 2023
Image credit: aljazeera


  • Two sons of former Panamanian Pres. Ricardo Martinell on Wednesday returned to Panama after serving three years in prison in the US for money laundering in a case related to the Odebrecht construction firm scandal.
  • The US State Department has banned Martinelli and his two sons from ever traveling to the US, adding that the former president participated in “significant corruption” by awarding government contracts based on bribes.
  • Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht orchestrated a network in which it paid roughly $788M in bribes to win public contracts between 2001 and 2016. Panama was one of 12 countries involved in the scandal that led to Odebrecht paying $3.5B in penalties.
  • The brothers, Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares and Ricardo Martinelli Linares, are set to face trial in August for their role in the corruption scandal while their father was in office from 2009 to 2014.
  • The brothers spent 23 months in Guatemalan custody before finishing their sentence in the US for conspiring to launder $28M in bribes. Upon their return to Panama, they paid a $14M bond to avoid being detained while awaiting trial.
  • Martinelli and Juan Carlos Varela, a fellow former president, are also involved in the pending trial. The elder Martinelli is running for president in 2024, seeking his second non-consecutive term.


Narrative A

Former Pres. Martinelli is a corrupt politician who participated in a grand scheme of ill-intentioned behavior that undermined democracy and sold out his country for profit. He and his sons have no place in leadership after their years of corruption and financial crimes.

Narrative B

Former Pres. Martinelli and his sons have the right to defend themselves and free themselves from unlawful prosecution. There’s no evidence linking the former president or his associates to any illegal transactions. Despite the hardship he and his family have endured, at least they’ve been reunited while they look to win their case and clear their names.

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