PANAMA CITY (AP) — Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli was among some 20 people who went to trial Tuesday on money laundering charges as he tries to mount a political comeback ahead of next year’s national elections. Martinelli, who had back surgery last week, was not present. One of his lawyers tried twice to stop the proceedings, but Judge Baloisa Marquínez dismissed the protests. The former president has denied wrongdoing. The case, known locally as “New Business,” dates back to 2017 and concerns the purchase of a publishing company that owns national newspapers. Prosecutors maintain that companies that had won lucrative government contracts during Martinelli’s presidency, funneled money to a front company that was then used to purchase the publisher.
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