|Luis and Ricardo Martinelli with their father|
An Immigration Court in Miami has cancelled the December 27, 2018 hearing date, in the deportation case against Luis and Ricardo Martinelli, the sons of the former President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, who is himself in custody and awaiting trial in Panama City. The court gave no reason for the cancellation, nor did it set a new date for the hearing, which most likely couls result in their deportation to face criminal charges in their native Panama.
The Martinelli sons are accused of being "Testaferros" (bagmen) who received over $40m in bribes and kickbacks for their father, in the massive Odebracht construction scandal. Bond for the sons has been set at one million dollars each, but the US Government has appealed that ruling; the appeal is pending.
Their detention, more than one year after their US visas were revoked, has raised questions about the reason, at this date, for the proceedings. Some observers believe that their removal to the Republic of Panama is a tactic designed to force their father to plead guilty to the charges pending against him, and thereby avoid the possibility that the corrupt court system will find a way to free him without a conviction. Martinelli's National Security Council illegally conducted video and audio surveillance upon over 150 prominent Panamanians when he was in office.