Ricardo Martinelli’s habeas corpus plea turned down by the US Supreme Court
by Eric Jackson, from online reports
In a summary opinion issued by Justice Clarence Thomas, the US Supreme Court has rejected former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli’s habeas corpus petition against the extradition that has been ordered by Federal Magistrate Edwin G. Torres. The high court took up the matter on September 25, and as it must have appeared to Martinelli’s lawyers that they would lose, they filed a new habeas corpus motion with the US District Court in Miami on September 28.
The unanimous Supreme Court decision was announced on October 2. Like a great many last minute death penalty appeals in the face of an execution date, Martinelli’s new motion — based on a specious argument that US magistrates have no jurisdiction in extradition cases — could be rejected all the way up the US judicial system within a matter of hours or days. Earlier Justice Thomas had rejected Martinelli’s appeal of a decision denying him bail.
Perhaps courts in the United States will humor the man, but endless frivolous motions are not looked upon benevolently as part of the practice of law in the United States as is generally the case in Panama. Motions interposed for the purpose of delay are considered breaches of legal ethics there, although serious penalties are rarely imposed for that. So although Martinelli may have more days in the USA, he might not. Look for him to be led off of a plane at a Panamanian airport in handcuffs at any moment.
Once in Panama Martinelli would face trial by the Supreme Court, which is still dominated by his appointees. The underlying charge in this case is about the electronic surveillance of some 150 people, and secondarily of all the persons caught in conversations — emails, phone calls, sounds picked up when computers or smart phones were remotely turned into bugging devices — with the targets of the former president’s curiosity. There are a number of other criminal charges pending against Martinelli, other complaints which the high court here has not decided whether to accept or reject, and potential new charges as well. The former president and other accused members of his entourage are trying to defeat prosecutors by endless delays that run the cases past statute of limitations deadlines.
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