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  HOME | Central America

US Judge Again Denies Panamanian Ex-Presidentís Request for Bail

MIAMI Ė A judge in the United States once again has refused to release former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli on bail and also postponed his extradition hearing until Aug. 3.

Edwin Torres, a US federal judge in Miami, handed down those rulings on Tuesday.

The 66-year-old Martinelli faces numerous charges in Panama, whose government has requested his extradition in a case involving alleged spying on more than 200 opposition figures.

Martinelli, who was arrested in Miami on June 12 and was due to appear for an extradition hearing on July 25, also faces charges of illicit enrichment.

Martinelli, who was in office from 2009 to 2014, became the first former Panamanian head of state to be arrested abroad on an extradition request.

The ex-president says he is being politically persecuted by Panamaís current head of state, Juan Carlos Varela, who had previously served as Martinelliís vice president.

Martinelli left Panama on Jan. 28, 2015, when that nationís Supreme Court agreed to hear the first of the dozen or more cases against him.

Two of Martinelliís sons are the subjects of Interpol red notices in connection with the bribery scandal involving Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, a case in which several dozen people face prosecution.

Odebrecht has admitted as part of a settlement with US authorities that it paid $59 million in bribes to Panamanian officials during the Martinelli administration.

Torres, who on July 7 had denied an earlier bail request, will rule on whether or not Martinelli should be extradited.

The US State Department, however, will have the final word based on the federal courtís ruling.

 

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