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Panama electoral court strips ex-president of immunity

Panama's former president Ricardo Martinelli (C) stands outside the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) in Guatemala City January 29, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Panama’s electoral court on Thursday revoked former President Ricardo Martinelli’s immunity from prosecution to face charges of insider trading while he was in office.

The multimillionaire supermarket tycoon, who left Panama in January and who is believed to be in Miami, is facing half a dozen corruption probes, including charges of embezzlement, espionage, taking bribes and selling pardons.

The electoral court said in a statement that it was removing Martinelli’s immunity at this point only in regards to charges of insider trading.

Martinelli, who boosted growth in Panama with an expansion of the Panama canal and other construction projects, has immunity from prosecution as the head of the Democratic Change party.

According to Panama’s stock market regulator, Martinelli, may be guilty of insider trading on shares of Canadian miner Petaquilla, dating back to when he was in office between 2009 and 2014.

Martinelli has denied any wrongdoing, alleging that his successor and adversary, President Juan Carlos Varela, has gone after him for political reasons.

Reporting by Elida Moreno; Editing by Sandra Maler