Swiss authorities arrest ex-Panama leader’s sons

The sons of former Panama President Ricardo Martinelli are facing extradition from Germany after a multi-country chase led them through the Netherlands, France and Spain to their final destination: the U.S.

According to a statement released Thursday by the U.S. attorney’s office in Virginia, Martinelli’s sons, Juan Pablo and Edgar, were arrested on Aug. 7 in Amsterdam after their plane landed at Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam. The pair was supposed to return home to Panama but instead quickly disappeared, authorities say.

“U.S. agents followed the cell phone of a suspect they are investigating to the United States, where the suspect was seized. He is now in custody pending extradition to the United States,” prosecutors said in a statement.

The former Panamanian leader went missing in July, and the attempted kidnapping of his family in Panama spawned a massive manhunt. Prosecutors in Panama say the elder Martinelli arranged to have the couple abducted by armed thugs in Panama City but fled before they were taken by helicopter to France.

The elder Martinelli, 72, was reportedly “personally involved” in the scheme to have his family kidnapped, prosecutors said.

Panama’s Constitution says that a leader “shall,” under rare circumstances, be tried while in office. The father-son duo was tried in absentia by Panamanian courts.

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