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  HOME | Central America

US Supreme Court Rejects Panamanian Ex-Presidentís Bid for Bail

WASHINGTON Ė The US Supreme Court rejected on Tuesday a habeas corpus motion from former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli, who is being held pending possible extradition to his homeland.

Justice Clarence Thomas denied the emergency motion filed on behalf of Martinelli, a Supreme Court spokeswoman said.

Lawyers for the 66-year-old Martinelli asked the nationís highest court to order a hearing on the conditions of his detention and to stop the extradition proceedings.

The former president faces numerous charges in Panama, whose government has requested his extradition in a case involving alleged spying on more than 200 opposition figures.

Arrested in Miami on June 12, Martinelli 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.

On July 18, US District Judge Edwin Torres again refused to grant bail in the case, though he postponed a hearing on the extradition request from July 25 to Aug. 3.

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 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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