Ricardo Martinelli (left) is shown here next to former king Juan Carlos and ex-prime minister Mariano Rajoy at a summit event in Cadiz. | Efe

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The four Guardia civil officers arrested in Mallorca on Monday by the force's Internal Affairs unit were allegedly involved with harassment of and spying on the Mallorcan girlfriend of Ricardo Martinelli, a former president of Panama.

The events date back to July 2020, when the woman returned to the island. The officers, who collaborated with a security company, were apparently asked to follow the woman, to watch over her and give her protection if necessary. A geolocator was used to follow her and she was spied on for days.

On July 8, a WhatsApp group was created. It was dubbed 'Operation Cockatoo'. One officer was nicknamed Puma II, second in the team's hierarchy. Martinelli, whose nickname was Zeus, seemingly exchanged messages regarding how they were to be paid for their services.

The woman lived in Pont d'Inca, Marratxí. She was spied on there. Initially, so it is claimed, the officers worked for free - a gift to the ex-president. The first surveillance was in Port Adriano. Martinelli sent them images of the woman they had to follow. She was an easy target. They located her in a restaurant and from then on they began to follow her every move. According to investigators, one of the officers offered to "use his daughter" in the surveillance.

The woman came to realise that she was being followed. She reported this three times to the National Police as well as to a court of instruction and the Guardia Civil.

The officers face charges of criminal organisation, disclosure of secrets and coercion. Three others were arrested - the owner of a security company and an employee plus someone described as a "fake" soldier.