Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Extradition’

4th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a United States Federal Court may soon hear a case involving a plaintiff bringing suit against a former Secretary of Defense which alleges that the plaintiff was subjected to extra-legal abduction and torture. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Associated Press, AP.org:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld can be sued personally for damages by a former U.S. military contractor who says he was tortured during a nine-month imprisonment in Iraq. The lawsuit lays out a dramatic tale of the disappearance of the then-civilian contractor, an Army veteran in his 50s whose identity is being withheld from court filings for fear of retaliation. Attorneys for the man, who speaks five languages and worked as a translator for Marines collecting intelligence in Iraq, say he was preparing to come home to the United States on annual leave when he was abducted by the U.S. military and held without justification while his family knew nothing about his whereabouts or even whether he was still alive. The government says he was suspected of helping pass classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces get into Iraq. But he was never charged with a crime, and he says he never broke the law and was risking his life to help his country…

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

The issues in the case noted above are likely to cause tension in a political context as matters pertaining to national defense can be the source of strong opinions. That stated, it would appear that the Court sees the case as being meritorious enough to warrant allowance of this personal lawsuit. That stated, until such time as a final ruling on the matter has been handed down all parties are viewed as innocent of any charge until culpability is proven. Hopefully justice will prevail.

Pursuant to the United States Constitution and the notions of due process of law emanating therefrom; individuals, particularly American Citizens, must be accorded certain procedural formalities prior to having their liberties abridged. For example, in order to bring a person under the criminal jurisdiction of an American Court of competent jurisdiction it is generally required, absent exigent circumstances, that a valid arrest warrant be issued. In some cases, US Courts opt to issue a bench warrant whereby a judge issues a warrant directly from the bench. Meanwhile, in situations where an individual has fled a particular jurisdiction there are instances where a fugitive warrant is issued. The procedure for bringing a fugitive from one jurisdiction to another is generally referred to as extradition.

Meanwhile, in matters pertaining to the region of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the former King of Cambodia is traveling to Beijing, China. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the website of The Straits Times, StraitsTimes.com:

PHNOM PENH – CAMBODIA’S ailing former king Norodom Sihanouk left his country for Beijing on Wednesday to undergo medical tests, officials said. The 88-year-old monarch, who remains a revered figure in Cambodia, was given a red-carpet sendoff by his son King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior government officials at Phnom Penh airport…’He goes back this time to have his health checked to stay healthy and live longer among his people,’ Prince Sisowath Sirirath, second deputy president of the royalist Funcinpec party, told reporters. He said he didn’t know when Sihanouk would next return…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this poignant article in its entirety.

Former King Norodom Sihanouk remains a respected and highly venerated figure in the Kingdom of Cambodia notwithstanding the fact that his son King Norodom Sihamoni has taken up the responsibilities of Kingship. Hopefully, the former King’s upcoming health check up will result in benefits to his health as it is clear that the hopes and prayers of his people are with him.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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22nd December 2010

The Wikileaks controversy has been captivating both the print media and the online media recently as it represents one of the most high profile examples of governmental information leakage in recent years. For those who are unfamiliar with the controversy a brief synopsis could be summed up by saying that the supposed Director of Wikileaks, Mr. Julian Assange, apparently came across approximately 250,000 leaked cables which were allegedly obtained by a military enlisted man in Iraq. The cables appear to contain information which was deemed “Secret” by officials of the US government.

The reason for this blog post is not to delve into the Wikileaks controversy itself, but the issue of extradition to the United States of America. To quote directly from a recent report from the Reuters News Agency:

“The risk we have always been concerned about is onward extradition to the United States and that seems to be increasingly serious and increasingly likely,” Assange told reporters in the sprawling grounds of the house in eastern England where he must spend Christmas and New Year.

Extradition to the USA is a serious proposition and it is this author’s opinion that there would be a strong likelihood that US officials may try to use extradition proceedings in an effort to bring Mr. Assange under the jurisdiction of the United States Courts. The news report went on to note:

Asked if he was facing a U.S. conspiracy, Assange told reporters: “I would say that there is a very aggressive investigation. A lot of face has been lost by some people, and some people have careers to make by pursuing famous cases.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said his government was considering using the U.S. Espionage Act, under which it is illegal to obtain national defense information for the purpose of harming the United States, as well as other laws to prosecute the release of sensitive government information by WikiLeaks.

One key question for U.S. prosecutors is if they can determine whether Assange collaborated with the U.S. Army intelligence analyst who is suspected of leaking the classified material. Assange has denied any connection with the former U.S. Army Specialist Bradley Manning.

The issues noted above are not well settled under United States law. Many, both in the media and across the internet, have argued that Mr. Assange is more “freedom fighter” than “terrorist”. Meanwhile, groups with opposing views have called for Mr. Assange’s arrest on the grounds that he has committed the crime of espionage against the USA. In any case, it should be pointed out that only recently the United States government went to great lengths to extradite Viktor Bout, the so-called “Lord of War” or “Merchant of Death” from the Kingdom of Thailand. As noted in a previous posting, this was not the first instance of the United States going great lengths to bring a foreign national under its jurisdiction for the purpose of putting them on trial as can be evidenced from the arrest and subsequent incarceration of Manuel Noriega (Former quasi-dictator of Panama). However this case ultimately plays out one thing is clear: Mr. Assange is likely to remain the target of attentions from the US government for the foreseeable future.

For related information please see:  fugitive warrant or Arrest Warrant.

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16th November 2010

In a previous posting on this blog, this author noted that Russian National Viktor Bout, suspected international arms dealer and supposedly one of the individuals who was an inspiration for Nicholas Cage’s character in the film Lord of War, was facing extradition proceedings which could ultimately lead to charges being brought in a Court of competent jurisdiction in the United States of America. Furthermore, extradition of Mr. Bout means that he would be transferred to the care of American authorities in the lead up to his trial. To quote directly from the recently released Associated Press article on this topic:

The Thai government extradited accused Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout to the United States on Tuesday to face terrorism charges, rejecting heavy pressure from Moscow for him to be freed.

The Cabinet approved Bout’s extradition Tuesday after a long legal battle, and Police Col. Supisarn Bhakdinarinath said the 43-year-old Russian was put aboard a plane in Bangkok at about 1:30 p.m. (0630 GMT; 1:30 a.m. EST) in the custody of eight U.S. officials.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters after the Cabinet meeting that the government sided with an earlier appeals court decision that Bout could be extradited.

The issue of Mr. Bout’s extradition has been a complex and politically charged one in recent months as Thai Courts have struggled with the case in an effort to come up with a fair ruling. Exacerbating the tension for Thai authorities are the authorities in Moscow and Washington DC: each vying to see Mr. Bout sent to either Russia or the USA, respectively. To quote further from the aforementioned AP article:

A Thai court in August of 2009 originally rejected Washington’s request for Bout’s extradition on terrorism-related charges. After that ruling was reversed by an appeals court in August this year, the U.S. moved to get him out quickly, sending a special plane to stand by.

However, just ahead of the appeals court ruling, the United States forwarded new money-laundering and wire fraud charges to Thailand in an attempt to keep Bout detained if the court ordered his release. But the move backfired by requiring a hearing on the new charges. Those were dismissed in early October.

Russia says Bout is an innocent businessman and wants him in Moscow. Experts say Bout has knowledge of Russia’s military and intelligence operations and that Moscow does not want him going on trial in the United States.

The outcome of this case remains to be seen as Mr. Bout will likely face trial in America. Therefore any mention of possible outcomes in the United States Court system would be an exercise in pure speculation. However, one could surmise that after the expense of substantial time and resources on the part of the United States government to see Mr. Bout extradited to the USA it is safe to assume that a prosecution of Mr. Bout will be conducted with alacrity.

Extradition of high profile international criminals is not common, but when it does occur, the USA tends to pursue prosecution rather quickly. An interesting analogy to Mr. Bout’s situation is the American apprehension of Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian quasi-dictator captured and prosecuted in the early 1990′s for crimes related to drug trafficking and racketeering. Although Mr. Bout was not a South American dictator, this author believes that the cases are similar as they show how the United States government can be very determined when trying to apprehend individuals engaged in the international trade of contraband.

For related information please see: criminal warrant.

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15th September 2010

The American Department of State (DOS) is responsible for a great number of government functions performed in the United States of America and abroad. On this blog, we routinely post information about issues connected to DOS in an effort to disseminate useful information to Americans abroad or foreign nationals seeking information about US Immigration. It recently came to this author’s attention that the American State Department has released a new edition of a publication designed to provide insight to American law enforcement officials regarding protocols which must be adhered to in situations involving foreign Consular officials. To quote a press release from the Department of State and distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

The Department of State is pleased to announce its publication of the third edition of “The Consular Notification and Access Manual.” Produced by the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the Office of the Legal Adviser, the manual instructs federal, state and local law enforcement and other officials on actions they must take to comply with U.S. obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and other international agreements. It includes details on steps U.S. authorities must take when a foreign national in the United States is arrested or detained, dies, is involved in the wreck of a foreign vessel, or requires the appointment of a guardian.

The manual, which is available free of charge, supports the Department’s efforts to ensure that the United States meets its international obligations to notify foreign consular officials about their citizens in the United States. To order the manual or to access the online version, please visit the consular notification and access section of our website at www.travel.state.gov/consularnotification.

The Vienna Convention is an important pillar of American law enforcement policy regarding foreign Missions in the United States. The rules stipulated in the Vienna Convention generally apply to personnel of US Missions abroad. Therefore, reciprocal adherence to Vienna Convention protocols creates a more stable international community for all concerned.

These issues should not be confused with those related to Americans who have been arrested abroad. As a rule, the Vienna Convention does not apply to Americans abroad who have no government affiliation. Thus, an American arrested abroad is unlikely to be treated in the same manner as American government representatives accredited to a given country.

Americans arrested overseas or those who find that they are the subject of an American warrant are well advised to contact a licensed American lawyer who can provide insight into the methods for resolving a pending criminal matter.

For related information please see: US Warrant or Extradition.

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21st August 2010

The New York Times website reported the following:

BANGKOK — Viktor Bout, a Russian businessman who is expected to face gun-running charges in the United States following his extradition from Thailand, expressed confidence on Friday that he would ultimately be exonerated.

Those who are unfamiliar with this case may remember an American film which is supposedly based upon Mr. Bout’s life. The aforementioned article went further to note that:

Mr. Bout, who inspired the movie “Lord of War,” starring Nicolas Cage, is suspected of running a large-scale trafficking organization that provided weapons to governments, rebels and insurgents across the globe.

As a general rule, international extraditions in cases which are covered heavily by the media can be exceptionally tense especially where two different countries wish to see differing outcomes. In this case, the extradition request could be viewed as highly complex, both from a legal as well as political standpoint, and this proceeding would seem to represent an important achievement for American officials as the article went on to observe:

The court decision on Friday… was a victory for the Obama administration, which summoned the Thai ambassador in Washington to the State Department this week to “emphasize that this is of the highest priority to the United States,” a spokesman said. “There have been a lot of conversations of senior administration officials with their Thai counterparts about this,” said one American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after staying up until 2 a.m. awaiting the news from Bangkok. American officials had feared that Russian pressure would prevail and Mr. Bout might be flying home. “This really was a welcome surprise,” the official said of the court’s decision.  Russia, which had been seeking to prevent Mr. Bout from being placed in the American legal system, reacted angrily. “We regret what, in my view, is an illegal political decision taken by the appellate court in Thailand,” Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said Friday, according to the Interfax news agency. “Based on the information we have at our disposal, the decision was made under very strong outside pressure. This is lamentable.”

The United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand share a long and amicable relationship as the two countries have a history of friendly bilateral political and economic relations. One of the foremost examples of this relationship is the US-Thai Amity Treaty. That said, the recent decision would seem to have be made on legal grounds and not based upon political considerations. However, not everyone was happy to hear the Thai court’s decision:

After the ruling, Mr. Bout embraced his wife and daughter, who wept. He said nothing to reporters in the courtroom as he was led out in leg irons. The court ordered his extradition within three months… Mr. Bout’s lawyers had argued that the extradition request was part of a pattern of the United States’ reaching beyond its borders to punish its enemies. Chamroen Panompakakorn, Mr. Bout’s principal lawyer, alluded to the rendition of terrorist suspects by the American government and argued that the overall credibility of the United States government had been tarnished after the failed search for unconventional weapons in Iraq.

Regardless of one’s opinion about the decision itself, this case may represent a major milestone in international jurisprudence as the Kingdom of Thailand, the United States of America, and many other jurisdictions around the world continue to work together to bring international and multi-jurisdictional criminal suspects before lawful tribunals in both the USA and abroad. Extradition represents one area of international criminal law where cross border cooperation by authorities is leading to apprehension of suspected criminals all over the globe. In another posting on this blog, the issue of Royal Thai Immigration‘s decision to connect to American warrant databases was discussed. In an increasingly “globalized” world, it is becoming evermore difficult for international criminal suspects to evade government authorities. Meanwhile, American authorities’ efforts to apprehend those with an American criminal warrant, fugitive warrant, bench warrant, or arrest warrant continue unabated. Those who find that they have an outstanding American warrant are well advised to seek the assistance of competent counsel in the form of a licensed American attorney in order to deal with the matter in accordance with all applicable laws.

For further related information please see: Warrant For My Arrest.

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18th July 2010

In a recent article, promulgated by The Nation Newspaper and distributed by the website ThaiVisa.com, it was announced that an American Citizen was arrested on money laundering charges on the Thai island of Koh Samui. To quote directly from ThaiVisa.com:

An American wanted by US authorities for alleged money laundering was charged on Samui Island yesterday.

Immigration police arrested Ronald Paul Shade, 39, who was allegedly fled California after international police and San Bernardino court issued arrest warrants for him. He was detained to face charges of money laundering and stealing about US$14 million.

Police said the American Embassy contacted them to trace Shade. They later found him “hiding” in Samui, which led to the arrest.

The suspect, who allegedly confessed, will be extradited to the US, according to a bilateral extradition treaty.

In the relatively recent past, occurrences such as this were relatively rare. This was likely due to the fact that the Thai Immigration database was not “tied in” to the American criminal databases and watchlists. Recently, it was announced that the Thai Immigration database would begin sharing information with their American counterparts, and vice versa. It is important to note that the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand share an Extradition Treaty. Therefore, an American Citizen with a pending criminal warrant, such as the suspect in the aforementioned news report, could be detained in Thailand and extradited back to the United States to face trial for the alleged offenses.

In the United States, there are various types of warrants and writs which could be issued in an attempt to compel an American Citizen, foreign national, or lawful permanent resident, to appear before a court of competent jurisdiction. For example, a bench warrant is generally issued by a Court when a defendant has failed to appear in connection with a pending civil or criminal matter. In some cases, those with a traffic citation, who fail to properly deal with the matter, are subjected to a bench warrant until such time as the underlying charge is satisfactorily resolved.

Under certain circumstances, a court in one jurisdiction will issue a fugitive warrant for the arrest of an individual in connection with an offense committed in another jurisdiction. Although this is somewhat uncommon, such matters are highly complex and those who are the subject of such a warrant should seek competent legal advice as soon as possible in an effort to deal with the matter in accordance with all relevant laws.

It would appear that Royal Thai Immigration authorities are taking a hard line against foreigners who are suspects in legal proceedings abroad. It remain to be seen whether this policy will continue to be rigorously enforced by Thai authorities, but one could easily infer that enforcement will continue and possibly become more zealous.

For further informational reading please see: warrant or Warrant For My Arrest.

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7th July 2010

American Warrants: An Overview

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The American Criminal Justice system, and the body of US law springing therefrom, is something of an amalgam of 234 years of American jurisprudence both codified and recognized by means of common law legal doctrines such as stare decisis. The following is a brief overview of US warrants and their usage by American courts in enforcing jurisdiction over individuals (both American Citizens and Foreign Nationals).

The Bench Warrant

The following is a direct quote from Wikipedia:

A bench warrant is a variant of an arrest warrant that authorizes the immediate on-sight arrest of the individual subject to the bench warrant. Typically, judges issue bench warrants for persons deemed to be in contempt of court—possibly as a result of that person’s failure to appear at the appointed time and date for a mandated court appearance. Bench warrants are issued in either criminal or civil court proceedings.

Commonly (but not always), the person who is subject to a bench warrant has intentionally avoided a court appearance to escape the perceived consequences of being found guilty of a crime. If a person was on bail awaiting criminal trial when the nonappearance took place, the court usually forfeits bail and may set a higher bail amount to be paid when the subject is rearrested, but normally the suspect is held in custody without bail. If a person has a bench warrant against them when stopped by a law enforcement officer, the authorities put them in jail and a hearing is held. The hearing usually results in the court setting a new bail amount, new conditions, and a new court appearance date. Often, if a person is arrested on a bench warrant, the court declares them a flight risk (likely to flee) and orders them held without bail.

Bench warrants are traditionally issued by sitting judges or magistrates.

There are a relatively large number of instances in which an individual finds that they have a pending bench warrant. Some opt to take the “do nothing” approach and simply hope the problem will go away on its own. Generally, this is unwise as courts rarely, if ever, allow a pending bench warrant to “go away”. Therefore, those with a pending warrant are well advised to retain competent legal counsel in an effort to deal with the matter promptly.

Arrest Warrant

With that in mind, the following quote, from the aforementioned wikipedia entry, succinctly sums up the issues regarding an outstanding arrest warrant:

An outstanding arrest warrant is an arrest warrant that has not been served. A warrant may be outstanding if the person named in the warrant is intentionally evading law enforcement, is unaware that a warrant is out for him/her, the agency responsible for executing the warrant has a backlog of warrants to serve, or a combination of these factors.

Some jurisdictions have a very high number of outstanding warrants. The U.S. state of California in 1999 had around 2.5 million outstanding warrants, with nearly 1 million of them in the Los Angeles area.[4]The city of Baltimore, Maryland, had 53,000 as of 2007.[5] New Orleans, Louisiana, has 49,000.[6]

Some places have laws placing various restrictions on persons with outstanding warrants, such as prohibiting renewal of one’s driver’s license or obtaining a passport.

The final line of the above quotation brings up a point that has previously been mentioned on this blog. Namely: the confiscation of one’s US passport by the American government if one has a pending arrest warrant in the USA. As has been previously noted on this blog, this can be an occasional occurrence outside of the United States when an American travels to a US Embassy or US Consulate to renew their passport or add visa pages at an American Citizen Services Section. In a large number of cases, if a pending arrest warrant is discovered, even if unknown to the subject, the passport will likely be seized, but the American Citizen may be given the option of being issued a travel document to travel back to the USA to deal with the pending matter.

Mittimus

Although not as commonplace in modern times, the mittimus writ is similar to a warrant and its practical application can be very similar to that of a warrant in some cases . The following is a final quote from the previously mentioned Wikipedia entry:

A mittimus is a writ issued by a court or magistrate, directing the sheriff or other executive officer to convey the person named in the writ to a prison or jail, and directing the jailor to receive and imprison the person.

An example of the usage of this word is as follows: “… Thomas Fraser, Gregor Van Iveren and John Schaver having some time since been Confirmed by the Committee of the County of Albany for being Persons disaffected to the Cause of America and whose going at large may be dangerous to the State, Ordered Thereupon that a Mittimus be made out to keep them confined till such time as they be discharged by the Board or any other three of the Commissioners.” Minutes of the Commissioners for detecting and defeating Conspiracies in the State of New York, Albany County Sessions,1778-1781. (Albany, New York: 1909) Vol. 1, Page 90

In police jargon, these writs are sometimes referred to as CAPIAS, defined as orders to “take” a person or assets. CAPIAS writs are often issued when a suspect fails to appear for a scheduled adjudication, hearing, etc.

As can be inferred from the citation above, the mittimus writ has its roots in American legal history and can still impact individuals (both American and Foreign) today.

Fugitive Warrant

Fugitive Warrants are another type of legal instrument that differ slightly from the aforementioned warrants. Below is a direct quotation from the glossary of Lawyers.com:

Definition
: an arrest warrant issued in one jurisdiction for someone who is a fugitive from another jurisdiction

Those with a pending American Fugitive Warrant are strongly advised to seek counsel from a competent American attorney in an effort to resolve the situation and deal with the legal consequences as quickly as possible.

Nothing stated above should be viewed as a definitive legal analysis regarding the issue of US Warrants. Furthermore, any individual case is unique and as a result no general information transmitted herein should be viewed as an appropriate legal analysis of a unique factual situation. For further information please see: warrant for my arrest or extradition.

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22nd June 2010

In the relatively recent past, there were some who felt that Thailand was something of a “safe haven” for those with a criminal record or a criminal warrant issued outside of the Kingdom. However, in recent years, this appellation would seem to be increasingly misapplied as Thai authorities take evermore stringent measures against criminals from other jurisdictions. For example, Pattaya One News recently reported the arrest of a Belgian National for falsification of official documents. The following is a direct quote from that story:

On Tuesday afternoon at the Chonburi Immigration Office located in Soi 5 off Jomtien Beach Road, Police Lieutenant Colonel Prapansuk, the Deputy Superintendant of Chonburi Immigration, held a press conference to announce the arrest of a Belgian man wanted by the Belgian Authorities. Mr. Justin Andre Cornelius Van Den Bussche aged 38, a part-owner of a bar here in Pattaya and a resident of 3 years, was arrested at his house within the Sabai Jai Village in Central Pattaya. According to information received by the Belgian Embassy in Bangkok, Mr. Van Den Bussche was recently sentenced to 1 year in prison by a Belgian Court in relation to a case involving the falsifying of official documents. He was able to flee to Thailand and Immigration Police were informed that his Belgian passport was going to be cancelled on 15th June. On 15th he was arrested and charged with not possessing a valid passport and will be deported to Belgium where authorities will be waiting for him.

Thai authorities in Pattaya are not the only law enforcement agents in Thailand who appear to be taking a firm line against foreign nationals committing crimes in Thailand. The following is a quote from the Pattaya Today blog:

An American man was arrested and alleged to have committed paedophilia, or having engaged in sex, with an underage child in this northern Thai province, according to provincial tourist police. Police found evidence that the man identified as Wilbert Willis Holley, 72, had sexually abused a ten-year-old female student at a local school in Chiang Mai’s provincial seat. The girl told officials that she had been sexually molested several times by Mr Holley at a local guesthouse. The suspect however denied the charge but the investigators are confidence that they have strong evidence to take legal action against him. Police brought Mr Holley to search his residence in order to find whether or not there was further evidence for human trafficking or any other offences.

Those who believe that Thailand is a “safe haven” for criminal elements would be wise to note Royal Thai Immigration’s recent efforts to integrate their database with that of the United States and other international criminal and terrorism databases. This would seem to indicate strong resolve on the part of the Thai government to both prosecute and/or commence extradition proceeding against foreign and domestic criminals in Thailand.

For related reading on arrest warrants and criminal matters please see: warrant for my arrest or American attorney.

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10th May 2010

In a recent posting on the popular website Thaivisa.com it was noted that the United States of America has honored an extradition request from Thai authorities that a suspect in a “drug gang” be extradited to the Kingdom of Thailand. The following is quoted from ThaiVisa.com:

BANGKOK: — Suwit “Cheng” Prasoprat, a member of the China-based “14K” drug gang, was handed over to Thai authorities on Sunday, nine years after a request for his extradition was filed, deputy attorney-general Thavorn Panichpan said yesterday.

Thavorn said members of the drug gang fled overseas after police investigators filed a case in February 2001 against Thaveewit Krairattanareuk, 46, plus Suwit and four others for having 3.6 tonnes of heroin destined for the US, and the attorney-general agreed to prosecute the gang.

Once it was discovered that Suwit was lying low in the US, Thai authorities filed an extradition request in March 2001, which was approved by an American court. However, Suwit appealed against the extradition in 2002, and though the Appeal Court upheld the lower court ruling, he appealed again to the Supreme Court. On April 19 this year, the US authorities notified Thailand that the extradition request had finally been approved and Suwit arrived in Bangkok on Sunday.

Lawyer Rewat Chanprasert said they previously extradited Boonsong Mekpongsathorn, 60, another suspect in the same case who also fled to the US.

Boonsong had been given the death sentence by the Thon Buri Criminal Court in January 2005, and the case was now with the Appeal Court. Thaveewit and another suspect, Komsak Kornjamrassakul, 50, were given life sentences in June 2001 and are now appealing their jail terms.

Narcotics Suppression Bureau chief Pol Lt-General Adithep Panjamanont said court permission would be sought to detain Suwit for a week pending further investigation, before the case was handed to prosecutors. He said the case stemmed from an arrest in 1998 over the possession of 126 kg of heroin on its way to the United States.

Police inquiries showed that Suwit, a Thai man with two nationalities and an address in the US, plus accomplices in China and Hong Kong known as the 14K gang, had carried out criminal activities in Thailand including arms deals, human trafficking and drug dealing.

Thai and US authorities worked together on the case until they had enough evidence for arrest warrants for Suwit and Boonsong in 2001, he said.

Adithep added that the police would extend the investigation to cover money-laundering and other criminal charges on Thai soil against Suwit, his accomplices and the 14K gang.

It was also reported that there are two other suspects in the same case – Suchat Rakraeng, who remains at large, and Kriengkrai Diewtrakul, who is in a Chiang Rai prison for another crime.

In an increasingly “globalized” world, cross-jurisdictional cooperation is becoming evermore commonplace. In the scenario described above, it is interesting to note that the subject is being extradited back to Thailand. There are some who speculate that as Thai authorities connect their computer systems to international warrant databases an increased number of foreign nationals residing in Thailand will be extradited to foreign jurisdictions as a result of increasing requests for extradition. Whether or not this will actually occur remains to be seen, but it is interesting to note the increasing trend of intergovernmental cooperation on an international level.

It should be noted that Royal Thai Immigration Police have begun integrating their system with warrant and criminal databases around the world. Therefore, there is reason to believe that this inter-connectivity could have a dramatic impact of Thai visa issuance and Immigration procedures in the future.

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24th March 2010

The issue of extradition is becoming more important as the world becomes increasingly “small” thanks in part to technology and the movement towards globalization. In a global environment, legal issues are becoming increasingly international as people are leaving their home countries and taking up residence in countries abroad. In order to understand extradition we need to understand how the international legal system operates when it comes to the issue of dealing with individuals who have warrants or arrests in multiple jurisdictions.  First we need to define what “extradition” means as it can have a significant impact upon individuals throughout the world.

The online informational resource wikipedia.com defines Extradition as follows:

“Extradition is the official process whereby one nation or state surrenders a suspected or convicted criminal. Between nation states, extradition is regulated by treaties.”

This leads to the question: If extradition is the process of surrendering foreign criminals to another nation, then how do countries determine when it is appropriate to extradite individuals? This can be incredibly important as activities which are considered criminal in one jurisdiction may be considered legal in another. To further quote wikipedia:

“The consensus in international law is that a state does not have any obligation to surrender an alleged criminal to a foreign state as one principle of sovereignty is that every state has legal authority over the people within its borders. Such absence of international obligation and the desire of the right to demand such criminals of other countries have caused a web of extradition treaties or agreements to evolve; most countries in the world have signed bilateral extradition treaties with most other countries. No country in the world has an extradition treaty with all other countries…”

Extradition Treaties represent the agreement between two countries regarding the procedure for dealing with those individuals who have a criminal warrant or conviction in one of the nations that is a party to the Treaty. The Kingdom of Thailand and the United States of America have an Extradition Treaty. To quote the American State Department’s website:

“There is a bilateral treaty on Extradition in force between the United States and Thailand, 11 Bevans 1008, 43 Stat. 1749 (1924) and Treaty relating to extradition signed at Washington December 14, 1983, entered into force May 17, 1991. There is a treaty on transfer of prisoners “Treaty on Cooperation in Execution of Penal Sentences” signed at Bangkok October 29, 1982, entered into force December 7, 1988.”

From a practical standpoint, the existence of an Extradition Treaty does not necessarily mean that those with arrest warrants, convictions, or fugitive warrants in the USA will be automatically picked up, arrested, and extradited by authorities in Thailand. Instead, this is unlikely as the Thai authorities do not have direct access to the databases that contain US criminal warrant information. However, recently the Thai immigration authorities have announced that they are taking measures to streamline their information gathering process when it comes to foreign nationals. Authorities in Thailand hope to be “plugged in” to US law enforcement databases soon.

Another issue with regard to US warrants involves US passports as Consular Officers at the American Citizen Services Section of the US Embassy in Bangkok may confiscate an American’s passport if they have outstanding US warrants. In such a scenario, the American would likely be accorded an opportunity to willingly return to the USA.

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