Panama court upholds ex-President Martinelli’s decade-long prison sentence

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – A Panama court on Tuesday upheld a 128-month prison sentence for money laundering against former President Ricardo Martinelli, the frontrunner in the Central American country’s presidential election next year.

The Superior Court for Settlement of Criminal Cases on Tuesday also upheld a $19.2 million fine Martinelli had been ordered to pay.

Martinelli was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison in July for his role in the case known as “New Business,” which alleges public funds were used to buy a media conglomerate and give the ex-president a majority stake.

The former president has stated his innocence and on social media on Tuesday said the court’s decision aimed to disqualify him from Panama’s May election.

(Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Brendan O’Boyle; Editing by Isabel Woodford)