Attorneys for former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, who is being detained in Miami on an extradition request to his homeland, filed an emergency petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday that asserts his constitutional rights have been violated because his bid for bond was denied.
Martinelli’s legal team argued that federal courts nationwide have “misconstrued” a 114-year-old Supreme Court decision “as having erected a heavy presumption against bail in such [extradition] cases.”
“The belief that [this decision] imposed an unlawful presumption has prevailed [in extradition cases] for so long that it is now binding across the country,” Miami attorneys David O. Markus and Ricardo Bascuas wrote in Martinelli’s emergency petition for a writ of habeas corpus. “Only this court can resolve the confusion at this point.”
Markus and Bascuas, who were added to Martinelli’s legal team led by attorney Marcos Jimenez, said the U.S. Supreme Court was the former president’s only recourse because bond denials cannot be appealed in extradition cases in the federal district or appeals courts.
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While the Supreme Court is in recess for the summer, it still issues decisions on emergency petitions and other orders, a spokesman said Monday.
Earlier this month, a U.S. federal judge in Florida denied bond for the former Panamanian president, who is fighting efforts to send him back to his home country to face political espionage charges.
U.S. Magistrate Edwin Torres issued his order, pointing out that Martinelli’s significant wealth and foreign connections make him a serious flight risk.
Martinelli was arrested in Miami last month on an extradition warrant from Panama. A final extradition hearing is set for Aug. 3, but it may be postponed because of the emergency petition filed with the Supreme Court.
Martinelli, who served as president from 2009 to 2014, failed to show up at a late 2015 court hearing in Panama on charges that include illegally monitoring phone and other conversations of at least 150 people with an extensive surveillance system he created with public funds.
Martinelli denies any wrongdoing and is seeking asylum.