Spanish version

JUDICIAL AFFAIRS

Many steps still remain in Martinelli extradition

He faces charges of ordering illegal surveillance.

Spanish version

Temas:

The extradition of former President Ricardo Martinelli is not simply a matter of delivering the request to American authorities, and it will require the allocation of substantial resources to ensure the process if completed.

Here are the steps in the process:

1. the request is currently in hands of the Department of State. It will evaluate it along with supporting documents to determine if they meet U.S. standards to allow for the extradition.

The Department of State can request Panama provide more information or it can send the file to the Department of Justice to continue with the process. Panama can also revoke the passport of Martinelli to avoid him from leaving the jurisdiction.

2. The Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs will review the documents provided by Panama and verify that the subject of the request is not part of a criminal investigation in the United States, including acting as a protected witness. The file will be assigned to a public federal prosecutor in South Florida.

3. At this stage, the defense attorneys for Martinelli have the opportunity to fight the request. They could argue political persecution by raising doubts about the charges brought by the government. They could also present reports and surveys of various experts that will try to qualify the government of Juan Carlos Varela as an authoritarian regime. They could also argue that there is a lack of a strong judicial system in Panama, and that they client cannot be tried fairly.

While it may take weeks or months for the extradition, the Supreme Court should expedite other records to support the extradition, including ones that outline the seriousness of the case.

One factor benefitting Panama is that the United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch has pursued cases involving international corruption, most notably involving FIFA. So she is extremely sensitive to issues of this type.

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