GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Two sons of former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli were arrested Monday in Guatemala as they tried to board a private plane out of the country.
Luis Enrique and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli were supposedly headed to Panama with stops scheduled in El Salvador and Nicaragua, said Guatemala Interior Ministry spokesman Vinicio Pacheco. He said there was an international order from Interpol for their arrests on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Both are sought by the Panamanian government for allegedly receiving more than $20 million in bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. The government originally sought their arrest in 2017.
In recent days, word circulated they were planning to return due to fears of the coronavirus. They have denied any illegal activity.
“We trust that the legal situation of the Martinelli brothers in the Guatemalan republic will be resolved as soon as possible so that they may coninue the process of their return to Panama to attend to the processes for which they have been cited,” the Martinelli family said in a statement Monday.
The brothers had been detained in Florida in 2018 for immigration reasons, but were released on $1 million bond for each.
Ricardo Martinelli, who governed from 2009 to 2014, was detained in the U.S. and Panama for more than two years on allegations of political espionage and misuse of public funds. A court found himnot guilty in 2019 and he was released.