The former President of Panama had no business in Ireland and was not invited here it has been confirmed.
A private jet, thought to be carrying Ricardo Martinelli, landed at Shannon Airport on Saturday morning before continuing onto Italy about 12 hours later.
It has been confirmed that Martinelli did not leave the airport, was not here on official business and was not invited here by the Irish Government.
Martinelli is facing corruption charges in Panama after the country’s Supreme court confirmed last month that it would investigate allegations that he inflated contracts worth $45m (€40m) to purchase dehydrated food for a government social programme.
The billionaire supermarket magnate has denied the charges and says he is the target of political persecution by his successor, Juan Carlos Varela, who broke with the government in 2011 while serving as Martinelli’s vice-president and foreign minister.
It’s known that Martinelli, who left office last July, flew to Guatemala on Wednesday to attend a session of the Central American parliament. There had been speculation in Panama that Martinelli would seek asylum there.
While the former President has said he was willing to return to face trial, as long as he was guaranteed justice, his jet flew to Florida after leaving Guatemala. It’s still not know however whether Martinelli was on board the plane.
The Hawker 800XP executive jet, registered in the US to the Bank of Utah Trustee in Salt Lake City, landed at Opa-Locka Executive Airport in Miami on Thursday where, it’s understood, Martinelli and his crew spent the night.
The jet continued on to Gander International Airport in Newfoundland on Friday where it refuelled again before flying across the Atlantic to Ireland.
The flight, using it’s registration as it’s callsign, touched down at Shannon at 3.22am on Saturday morning and was directed to a parking position on taxiway Echo 3 (E3).
Records show that the jet spent about 12 hours in Shannon before departing again shortly after 4.00pm on Saturday.
While its known that the crew filed a flight plan from Shannon to Guglielmo Marconi Airport in Bologna, Italy, it’s still unclear how many were on board at the time and whether Martinelli was one of them.
Clare based Chairman of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs & Trade Committee Deputy Pat Breen (FG) confirmed: “This aircraft made a refuelling stop at Shannon and he (Martinelli) didn’t leave the airport. He was not on official business here and received no invite from the Irish Government. He had no business here.”
There’s also speculation in Panama that Martinelli could be trying to throw the authorities in Panama off his scent.
Some believe he wouldn’t have risked landing in Florida because the Department of Homeland Security there could be interested in speaking with him.
It’s also known that the Italian Government could seek to speak with Martinelli about alleged bribes and kickbacks he reportedly received from a government-owned company that did business with Panama.