A District Judge in Miami has denied the Habeus Corpus petition filed by Panama's fugitive former president, Ricardo Martinelli, after another Federal judge ordered his extradition, to face the music in the Republic of Panama. Given the back story however, whether he ever sees the inside of a Panama City courtroom remains questionable.
The Court denied his petition, but allowed him a fourteen day stay, so that his defense team could file an appeal of the decision. It also retained limited jurisdiction, for the purposes of entertaining any bond proposal he might file. Martinelli, who it was rumored wanted to flee to the Dominican Republic, is in custody. Whether he will be allowed bond, pending his appeal, is an open question.
Curiously, the entire court file, including all the hearing notices, has been unavailable since the petition was filed, and the consensus of opinion in Panama is that Martinelli's petition alleged certain classified and possibly very embarrassing, information about covert US activities in Latin America. Was the United States Attorney's Office ordered to keep that information away from media and the public, without having the Court seal the file, which would attract major media attention ?
Remember, Martinelli's illegal electronic surveillance program allegedly spied upon the US Embassy, and could have acquired classified information that might set back diplomatic relations with the nations where operations were conducted, without the knowledge of their governments.
If you are unfamiliar with appellate practice and procedure, it is relatively easy to obtain extensions of time on the filing of briefs, and this matter could be delayed in this manner for several months. Martinelli's attorneys have inrterposed several procedural defects in the extradition documents, and a reversal of the extradition order might seem supported by existing law, deflecting questions about whether such a decision is correct, and Martinelli might end up living in Miami, and cheating justice one more time.
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