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Panamanian ex-president will appear before Miami judge in charge of appeal

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli will appear tomorrow in Miami before the judge in charge of the appeal filed by his defense after a US federal judge authorized the extradition to Panama.

“The lawyers are optimistic,” Martinelli’s spokesman Luis Eduardo Camacho, who is in Miami to attend the hearing, said in a brief statement to Efe.

Camacho indicated that Martinelli, although, like any person who is deprived of freedom, has “his ups and downs,” is “strong” facing the hearing in which the defense will explain the legal reasons why, in his opinion , it should not be delivered to Panama.

Judge Marcia G. Cooke, of the Federal Court of the Southern District of Florida, who when she took charge of Martinelli’s appeal last October, said that she wished to “resolve this dispute efficiently and expeditiously”, she has had to change the date of the hearing initially set for January 9.

First it went to January 16 and then to 23 due to requests for postponement by the parties.

Martinelli’s lawyers, who settled in Miami in 2015 and have been detained since June 12, 2017 because of Panama’s extradition request, appealed last September after US judge Edwin Torres authorized in August 2017 his delivery to Panamanian justice.

Panama asked the United States to extradite the former president to respond in his country for a case of illegal wiretapping during his government (2009-2014) of which 150 people were victims, including journalists, businessmen and politicians.

The crimes for which the Supreme Court of Panama requires Martinelli are embezzlement (embezzlement) and illegal eavesdropping.

Currently in Panama is open another case against Martinelli, this by the alleged irregular award of more than 300 pardons, which may lead to another request for extradition, although it has also been appealed by the lawyers of the exmandatario.

As a member of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen), the former president can only be tried by the Supreme Court of Justice of his country.

Martinelli’s appeal to the US courts is directed to the United States Attorney General, Jeff Sessions; Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson; and the active head of the Miami detention center where the former president, Robert Wilson, is being held.

Martinelli’s attorneys invoke a precedent created by the United States Court of Appeals when ruling against the extradition of a Canadian citizen requested on the basis of contempt.

According to the legal team of the exmandatario, the magistrate of the Panamanian Supreme Court Harry Díaz completely ignored the imputation phase in the proceeding against Martinelli.

The appeal is also based on the application of the Budapest Treaty on computer crimes retroactively, something that in the opinion of the defense is not in accordance with the law.

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