PANAMA CITY – Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli’s attorney, Alma Cortes, and his spokesman, Luis Eduardo Camacho, told EFE on Monday that they know nothing about a search and capture order issued by Interpol for the ex-leader and doubt that one exists.
Earlier on Monday, Commissioner Marcos Cordoba, the head of Panama’s Judicial Investigation Directorate, said that Interpol will issue a search and capture order known as a “Red Notice” for Martinelli.
“It’s correct,” Cordoba had told EFE. “The Red Notice has already been approved; now the only thing is for the communication to come through the Foreign Ministry.”
However, Cortes told EFE that “I’m going to check if that information is so; it’s not the first time that they’ve made false statements to continue alarming and offending the ex-president’s family,” going on to confirm that Martinelli is currently in Miami, where he has lived for the past two years.
Camacho told EFE that it is “incorrect” that Interpol is moving to issue a Red Notice against his boss, saying “We’re not paying any attention to that.”
According to Camacho, Cordoba “is a government official who is seeking to distract ... the media because of the growing unpopularity of President Juan Carlos Varela.”
“He’s not a trustworthy source. Mr. Cordoba has already, on occasion, given false information regarding former President Martinelli,” said Camacho, who served as the ex-president’s communications secretary during the second half of his 2009-2014 term in office.
Martinelli is facing about a dozen corruption charges in his country and Panama has requested his extradition in the case involving the alleged illegal wiretapping of more than 200 opposition figures, civil leaders, journalists and businessmen.
The US has not yet made a decision on Martinelli’s extradition.
According to the information to which EFE received access, Interpol issued Red Notice No. A-3657/4-2017 from its Paris headquarters “at the request of (Panama’s) Supreme Court of Justice,” which is handling the cases against Martinelli as per his status as a lawmaker with the Central American Parliament, or Parlacen.
The alleged crimes on which the Notice is based include “violation of privacy” by intercepting communications without judicial authorization and by following and monitoring people without such authorization.
In addition, the former Panamanian leader is also being charged with embezzling public funds.
So far, the Panamanian Foreign Ministry has not commented on the matter.
Meanwhile, Martinelli has not referred to the issue on his Twitter account, where is very active, and neither have his attorneys.
Martinelli left Panama on Jan. 28, 2015, when the high court agreed to hear the first of the dozen or more cases against him, saying that he was a victim of political persecution by Varela, his successor and former vice president and foreign minister.