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Panama: Jailed ex-president barred from May elections

April 26, 2019 GMT

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Panama’s electoral court has ruled that jailed ex-President Ricardo Martinelli may not participate in May general elections.

Martinelli has been behind bars on charges of political espionage since being extradited from the U.S. last June.

The 67-year-old who governed from 2009 to 2014 was nevertheless able to secure candidacies for mayor of Panama City and for the national legislature. He has led some polls on the mayoral race.

After the ruling was made public Friday, Martinelli’s lawyer said there would be an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Martinelli blamed President Juan Carlos Varela for the decision, saying in a message released online that he “always knew Varela would never let me run and win overwhelmingly for any public office.”

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Martinelli has also said he is innocent of the spying allegations.