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Panama tribunal says ex-president Martinelli cannot run in election - spokesman

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Panama tribunal says ex-president Martinelli cannot run in election - spokesman
Panama's former president Ricardo Martinelli reacts to the media while arriving to the Electoral Court in Panama City, Panama April 26, 2019. REUTERS/Erick Marciscano   -   Copyright  ERICK MARCISCANO(Reuters)
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PANAMACITY (Reuters) – Panama’s electoral tribunal has ruled that former President Ricardo Martinelli, who is awaiting trial on wiretapping charges, cannot take part in elections on May 5 in which he was running for mayor of Panama City and a seat in Congress, a spokesman for Martinelli said on Friday.

“The ruling of the electoral tribunal has disqualified him as candidate,” said the spokesman, Eduardo Camacho, calling the court’s ruling a “political decision.”

Officials at the tribunal did not immediately confirm the ruling, which also was reported in local media in Panama.

Martinelli, a supermarket tycoon who ran the Central American country from 2009 to 2014, was extradited to Panama last June from the United States and charged with spying on 150 people, including politicians, union leaders and journalists.

A judge had previously cleared Martinelli to run for mayor of the capital. His critics vowed to appeal that decision.

(Reporting by Elida Moreno and Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Bill Trott)

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