International Extradition & Noriega Litigation

I have to admit that Manuel Noriega was little more than a name from the past in my mind until I read some recent news. He apparently completed an incarceration in Federal Prison in 2007 but has continued to be held while contesting an extradition warrant and/or demand from France. These efforts to block extradition to France have reached an end, however, as a result of the recent United States Supreme Court decision in his case. He is to be surrendered to French authorities in the near future.

International extradition can be very complex as illustrated by its taking approximately three (3) years to get a final order to extradite Mr. Noriega to France. Whether or not this variety of extradition was permissible hinged on the existence of an extradition treaty between the US and France, something which plainly exists. If the demand to extradite involved a country like Saudi Arabia or even Serbia, extradition would not be authorized as there is no treaty to allow for extradition to or from the United States.

Where a valid treaty exists, an Extradition Lawyer is limited to collaterally attacking the demand for the “fugitive”. This is how Frank Rubino crafted his objection on behalf of Mr. Noriega. His primary argument was apparently that the prisoners of war convention mandated a return of Mr. Noriega to his home country upon conclusion of his sentence. The Supreme Court disagreed.