In­dia’s court re­jects French plea for woman’s release

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NEW DELHI: In­dia’s top court yes­ter­day re­jected a French re­quest to release from prison a French­woman wanted in Chile over the as­sas­si­na­tion of a key sup­porter of Gen­eral Pinochet’s mil­i­tary regime. Chile is seek­ing the ex­tra­di­tion of MarieEm­manuelle Ver­ho­even, 56, for her al­leged role in a con­spir­acy to kill Se­na­tor Jaime Guz­man Er­razuriz on April 1, 1991.

In­dian po­lice ar­rested her on Fe­bru­ary 16 as she en­tered the coun­try from Nepal, and she has been held in Delhi’s no­to­ri­ous Ti­har Jail ever since. The French em­bassy had told the Supreme Court it would en­sure she re­mained in In­dia if it re­leased her into its cus­tody pend­ing an ex­tra­di­tion hear­ing. But yes­ter­day the court dis­missed the plea, ques­tion­ing the em­bassy’s abil­ity to up­hold such a guar­an­tee. “The French woman is ac­cused of terror ac­tiv­ity, mur­der and be­ing a part of a sub­ver­sive group that killed a se­na­tor,” said Jus­tice T S Thakur.

“What can the French gov­ern­ment do if she flees de­spite the guar­an­tee? We will not make any in­terim ar­range­ment.” Lawyers for Ver­ho­even have ar­gued that her ar­rest and de­ten­tion were il­le­gal and she should be re­leased im­me­di­ately. The Supreme Court will take up her case again on De­cem­ber 8.

She was ar­rested in In­dia on the ba­sis of an In­ter­pol no­tice for her de­ten­tion is­sued at Chile’s re­quest, but In­ter­pol later can­celled the no­tice. The Delhi High Court in Septem­ber ruled in favour of Ver­ho­even’s im­me­di­ate release, say­ing the ex­tra­di­tion re­quest was il­le­gal, but shortly af­ter­wards she was re-ar­rested in prison.

A na­tive of Nantes in western France, Ver­ho­even had been ar­rested in the Ger­man city of Ham­burg in Jan­uary 2014 and de­tained for four months.But Ger­many re­jected Chile’s re­quest to ex­tra­dite her-some­thing her In­dian lawyers are point­ing to as they try to thwart her ex­tra­di­tion this time around. Ver­ho­even lived in Chile from 1985 to 1995 and worked to pro­mote hu­man rights there, be­fore re­turn­ing to France. She says she is the vic­tim of a “po­lit­i­cal vendetta” against her. — AFP

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