Jailed Martinelli  “optimistic” on extradition hearing

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Ex-president  Ricardo Martinelli, who once boasted that he would return to Panama and cross the country in a  triumphant convoy welcomed by cheering supporters mimicking a parade by a former military dictator, could instead be returning in handcuffs to an awaiting jail cell to face multiple trials with potential lengthy prison terms if found guilty.

The way the pendulum swings will likely be decided on Tuesday, January 16  when he leaves the cramped Miami detention center cell he has occupied since his arrest on June 12.  That’s when he will  get   a US judge’s response  to an  Amparo opposing his extradition to Panama,

His spokesman and longtime cheer leader, lawyer Luis Eduardo Camacho, told the Efe News agency. on Tuesday, January 2  that although Martinelli had been affected by his stay in detection he is “strong” and “very optimistic” about the result of the habeas corpus appeal.

According to court documents, the hearing in which Martinelli’s lawyers will present the arguments of the appeal was postponed from January 9 to 16,  but so far that has not been officially confirmed says Efe.

Camacho said that the new date was set by Judge Marcia G. Cooke of the Federal Court of the Southern District of Florida after the Prosecutor’s Office requested a postponement and the defense did not oppose it.

Asked about how Martinelli spent Christmas and New Year   Camacho said that although he is “strong” and receives visits from relatives and other authorized persons “something must have affected him ” being in prison at this time.

However, Camacho said, he is “very optimistic” about the outcome of the appeal filed with Judge Cooke.

The defense appealed to Cooke after US judge Edwin Torres ruled on August 31 that Martinelli’s extradition to answer a case of illegal wiretapping during his government, in which  150 people were victims, including journalists, businessmen and politicians was backed by sufficient evidence

Successive requests for bail with offers as high as $10 million have been denied.

Panama’s  Supreme Court of Panama wants Martinelli to face charges of embezzlement (and illegal eavesdropping with up to a dozen others waiting in the wings.

In one of her first appearances  at the beginning of October, Judge Cooke instructed each of the parties to take a series of steps in order to “resolve this dispute efficiently and expeditiously.”

The appeal is directed to the US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and the active head of the detention center where Martinelli, is being held.

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