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Second Circuit blocks extradition of former Bosnia diplomat

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Wednesday that a US citizen who served as Bosnian ambassador to the UN cannot be extradited to Sarajevo to face charges of embezzlement. The appeals court reversed a decision by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website], which had upheld the extradition of Muhamed Sacirbey in 2006. In granting Sacirbey's request for habeas relief, the appeals court determined:

While the factual and procedural history of this case is extraordinary, our resolution of it requires only that we apply the plain meaning of the provisions of the relevant treaty. The treaty authorizes the extradition of an individual who has been "charged" with a crime and requires that an arrest warrant and supporting materials be provided in order to obtain that extradition. Because the arrest warrant at issue in this case was issued by a court that neither has jurisdiction over the matter nor authority to enforce the warrant, the requirement of the treaty that an individual be "charged" with an extraditable offense has not been satisfied. This defect falls within the narrow category of issues that is cognizable on habeas review of an extradition order; we therefore reverse the order of the District Court denying the petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

The court also noted that, "the Department of State is authorized by the extradition treaty and by statute to refrain from extraditing Sacirbey because he is a citizen of the United States."

Sacirbey served as Bosnia's first ambassador to the UN from 1992 to 2000. He is accused of embezzling [AP report] more than $610,000 from the Bosnian government but has testified that the allegations are politically motivated. The US Department of Justice granted Bosnia's request for Sacirbey's extradition in 2002.

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