Former Panamanian Ricardo Martinelli wanted in his home country on political espionage charges will remain in the U.S. custody until the bond hearing in a federal court in Miami on June 20 as ordered by a judge.
The former Panama leader was accused of using public funds to illegally spy on more than 150 political rivals during his 2009-2014 presidential term. He was arrested outside Miami late on Monday.
Martinelli has denied the allegations against him and instead blamed his successor in a previous Twitter post, Juan Carlos Varela, as behind the accusations hurled against him, in part to divert attention from his own political woes back home.
Martinelli appeared in court on Tuesday in handcuffs. His lawyer said Martinelli should be released on bail. He also argued that the charges against Martinelli did not warrant extradition to Panama, which he left in January 2015.
Lawyer Marcos Jimenez said: “This is a politically motivated proceeding, instigated by a political opponent, the sitting Panama President. The lawyer also drew connections to Varela’s actions now on his client and Martinelli’s recent announcement that he will run for office again.
Martinelli’s administration was tainted by corruption when he presided over an infrastructure boom and his country’s rising economy in recent years.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres set a bond hearing on June 20, even as he cautioned that getting bond in extradition cases was difficult. Prosecutors vehemently pushed that the former Panamanian President should be detained until his extradition. Martinelli has a standing warrant arrest issued by the Panama Supreme Court in December 2015 after missing his court hearing on his case. The Panama government has sent a request in September last year to the U.S. State Department requesting for Martinelli’s extradition.