PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - An aircraft belonging to former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli was detained at Guatemala’s international airport by the local anti-narcotics prosecutor’s office at the request of U.S. authorities, Guatemalan authorities said late on Friday.
The reasons for the United States requesting the operation were not immediately clear.
Guatemalan authorities said in a statement that the operation was carried out by the Prosecutor’s Office against Narcoactivity, with the support of a special unit focused on crimes in airports.
Martinelli, who served as president from 2009 to 2014, was extradited from the United States and jailed in Panama on charges that he had used public money to spy on political rivals while in office. He was released in 2019 after being found not guilty. Last year, he was banned from leaving the country while under investigation for money laundering.
The statement did not refer to Martinelli’s whereabouts.
The former president said on his Twitter account that the aircraft, with registration N799RM, was acquired in 2005 and it was currently in the process of changing its flag.
He added that the prosecutor’s office that carried out the detention was assigned to the operation because it performs functions at the airport, but denied that the operation had to do with its mandate of fighting drug trafficking.
Reporting by Elida Moreno in Panama City, additional reporting by Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City; Writing by Laura Gottesdiener; editing by Richard Pullin
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