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The former president of Panama was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, who aspires to return to power in 2024, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for money laundering during his tenure (2009-2014), as reported by the judicial authorities on Tuesday, July 18th.

The court "sentences him to 128 months in prison" and orders him to pay a fine of 19 million dollars, according to the verdict, which can be appealed.

The former president has described the process against him as a "rigged political trial" and claims that it is all part of a "political persecution" to prevent him from running in the 2024 presidential elections.

"There are people here who are doing the unthinkable, violating the law, violating the Constitution, and violating the judicial system with the sole purpose of trying to politically disqualify me," Martinelli recently said.

"I will not be intimidated by these siren calls of a rigged trial; they will have to kill me," he added.

The prosecution had requested the maximum sentence of 12 years in prison for Martinelli, which could have been extended up to 18 years, for using state funds to purchase the majority of shares of Editora Panamá América in 2010.

According to the accusation, the purchase was made through a complex network of companies where several businesses deposited a total of $43.9 million. This money came from commissions, up to 10% of the original contract value, in infrastructure projects during Martinelli's government.

With part of those funds, Martinelli acquired the media company, whose editorial line has since then defended the ex-governor's positions.

Despite being called to trial in August for another case of alleged money laundering involving bribes paid by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, the 71-year-old Martinelli aspires to return to power.

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