Viewing cable 07SANSALVADOR1459
Title: VEHICLES FOR REVISITING EXTRADITION

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07SANSALVADOR14592007-07-31 16:03:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy San Salvador
VZCZCXYZ0015
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSN #1459/01 2121603
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 311603Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7158
INFO RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 001459 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DOJ/OIA FOR JOHN BEASLEY 
DEPT FOR INL, L/CLIFFORD JOHNSON AND SARA TORRES 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL KJUS KHLS KCRM ES
SUBJECT: VEHICLES FOR REVISITING EXTRADITION 
 
REF: STATE 98687 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Charles L. Glazer, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
 ¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Embassy has been advised that there are 
currently two potential cases to test the Salvadoran 
judiciary's willingness to extradite Salvadoran nationals to 
the US.  The simplest of these concerns a dual national 
convicted of child sexual assault who fled the US prior to 
sentencing.  The second, and more complex case, charges a 
Salvadoran gang member indicted in a RICO conspiracy case 
involving murder and attempted murder in the United States. 
July 17 discussions with Salvadoran counterparts over the 
latter case produced a mixed response, with the Salvadoran 
Attorney General's Office (Fiscalia) willing to proceed and 
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) more mixed in its 
reaction.  Embassy recommends a two-stage approach, leading 
with an immediate extradition request in the sexual assault 
case, where there is a reasonable chance of success, before 
moving forward on the more complicated RICO gang matter.  End 
Summary. 
 
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Fiscalia is On-Board 
-------------------- 
 
¶2. (U) On July 17, Stacy de la Torre, DOJ Attache, and John 
Beasley, Senior Trial Attorney, DOJ, Office of International 
Affairs, met with staff from the Salvadoran Attorney 
General's Office (Fiscalia) to explore their views on the 
extradition of Salvadoran nationals and the possibility of 
putting forward a test case.  After a brief meeting with 
Attorney General Felix Garrid they spent several hours with a 
group of senior prosecutors, including Nelson Mena, Legal 
Advisor to the AG; Rudolfo Delgado, Assistant to the AG; and 
Aquilles Parada, head of the Organized Crime Unit. 
 
¶3. (U) Beasley noted that the U.S. appreciated the efforts of 
the GOES to make the changes necessary to Article 28 of the 
Salvadoran constitution to allow for the extradition of 
Salvadoran nationals.  Beasley added that Article 8 of the 
Treaty on Extradition between U.S. and El Salvador (1911) 
also permitted the extradition of Salvadoran nationals.  Mena 
concurred that, when read together, the language of Article 
28 and Article 8 permitted the extradition of Salvadoran 
nationals. 
 
¶4. (U) Beasley and Mena agreed that the climate was now ripe 
for a test case, and that the case of Rigoberto Mejia, a high 
level enforcer for MS-13 who has committed murders in both 
U.S. and El Salvador, might be appropriate. (Note: Mejia is 
currently free in El Salvador after a key prosecution witness 
recanted under intimidation.  The prosecutor's office appears 
anxious to find a way to hold him in custody.  End note.) 
Mena added that this would be breaking new ground in the 
Salvadoran legal system on issues of dual criminality, the 
meaning of life imprisonment, and the reciprocity of 
procedural legal guarantees. 
 
¶5. (C) During the discussion of the legal issues involved, it 
became apparent that there is currently no established 
procedure in Salvadoran law for handling extraditions.  (It 
appears that El Salvador has used deportation of foreign 
nationals in lieu of extradition; as far as we can determine, 
there has never been a formal extradition of any sort from El 
Salvador.) As such, while the Fiscalia appears to be a 
willing and enthusiastic partner, there are no established 
avenues for extradition requests.  The view of the Fiscalia 
is that it would have to be assigned the case by the Supreme 
Court.  (NOTE:  Mena, Parada and Delgado each expressed 
concern that Elizabeth Villata, legal advisor to both the MFA 
and the Supreme Court, would be the first person to whom 
Supreme Court would turn for advice on how to proceed in this 
case, and that she had not been positively disposed to the 
extradition of Salvadoran nationals in the past.  End Note.) 
 
¶6. (U) Beasley suggested that the U.S. initially send down 
only a request for provisional arrest, as provided for in 
Articles 11 and 12 of the bilateral treaty.  The effect of 
this would be that the sole matter before the Court would be 
the request for an arrest warrant.  Assuming all of the 
treaty requirements were met, the Court would refer the case 
to a trial level judge who would issue a Salvadoran arrest 
warrant.  Once arrested, the person sought would be given a 
defense lawyer, and the judge would likely assign a 
prosecutor to represent the interests of the GOES.  The 
prosecutor could then commence the litigation of the 
extradition.  By the time the formal extradition packet 
arrived, a prosecutor would already have been assigned.  Mena 
et al thought that this would be a workable solution. 
E 
 
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MFA Reaction More Mixed 
----------------------- 
 
¶7. (U) Beasley and Poloff went on to meet with Elizabeth 
Villata, legal advisor to both the MFA and the Supreme Court, 
and Dania Tolentino, the lead prosecutor before the Supreme 
Court.  Villalta stated that extradition of nationals was 
clearly allowed now under both the Salvadoran constitution 
and the bilateral extradition treaty.  She stated that she 
saw no obstacles, only "constitutional requirements" that 
have to be satisfied, such as assurances of no death penalty 
or life imprisonment.  (Note: According to Villalta, a life 
sentence without possibility of release and rehabilitation 
(parole), would equate to "life".  End Note) 
 
¶8. (U) Villalta indicated that El Salvador has a sentencing 
regime similar to the U.S. Federal regime, and that the 
maximum penalty under Salvadoran law that has been upheld by 
the Supreme Court is 75 years.  (Note: An issue of greater 
concern is the inability to enumerate the "guarantees 
afforded their nationals under their constitution," as 
phrased in Article 28 of the Salvadoran constitution. 
According to Villalta, reciprocity of these constitutional 
guarantees would be a requirement for the extradition of a 
Salvadoran national.  End Note.) 
 
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An Easier Precedent? 
-------------------- 
 
¶9. (C) We understand that the Department and DoJ are 
considering an extradition request for Jose Marvin Martinez, 
a dual national convicted of the sexual assault of his 
natural daughter in Texas.  Martinez has been sentenced to 
eight years in prison for the offense, but fled prior to 
submission of the case to a jury.  We believe that there is a 
reasonable case for Martinez's extradition for several 
reasons: he's an American citizen; his daughter may hold 
Salvadoran nationality (making the case more attractive); he 
has been convicted of a particularly heinous crime and 
sentenced; the offense is prohibited under both US and 
Salvadoran law; and he has already been sentenced to a term 
that will not open a debate over the meaning of "life 
imprisonment." 
 
---------------------- 
Embassy Recommendation 
---------------------- 
 
¶10. (C) Our principal political goal is to ensure the 
extradition of Salvadoran nationals to stand trial for 
serious crimes committed in the US. We thus recommend that we 
treat these extradition requests as a two-stage process.  We 
should proceed immediately on the Martinez case, with the 
hope of establishing an extradition precedent (as well as the 
legal process to pursue extradition cases here) that could 
open the door to further extradition request.  If the court 
renders a favorable judgment on our request to extradite 
Martinez, we could then move forward under more favorable 
circumstances with the Mejia case. We should lead with our 
stronger case, rather than lose a chance of setting the 
precedent because of issues specific to the Mejia's 
circumstances. 
 
¶11. (C) We would hope that both requests would succeed, but 
recognize that in order for this to happen, the Salvadoran 
Supreme Court will need to establish a precedent that its 
nationals can be extradited.  Unfortunately, Mejia 
extradition would require the Supreme Court to find in our 
favor on two additional issues: dual criminality and the 
possible life sentence.  We think the odds are reasonable on 
the Martinez case, but far less favorable on Mejia's.  The 
latter would bear the additional political burden of 
unfavorable publicity, resulting from the fact that Mejia was 
erroneously deported to El Salvador because of an error made 
by a USG agency. 
Glazer