SC refuses to release terror accused French national

New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to release French national Marie-Emmanue Vehroeven – accused in the murder of Chilean senator Jamia Guzmann in 1991 – saying she was accused of a terror act and there would be no control over her if released on bail.

The Chilean government has sought Vehroeven’s extradition.

“She is accused of terrorist activities. She is accused of murder. She is a part of the subversive group. Once we release her, there would be no control over her,” said an apex court bench comprising Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Kurian Joseph while declining the plea for Vehroeven’s release.

“Terrorists (the world over) are striking at will. It also involves bilateral relations between two countries and cordial relations and cooperation between two States,” Justice Thakur observed as senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina, appearing for Vehroeven, urged the court to release her pending case hearing since it would take some time for the arguments to conclude and judgment to be pronounced.

Asking Andhyarujina to argue the matter fully, the court said: “We are not going to release the lady as she is accused of serious offence.”

The court fixed December 8 for further hearing in the case.

Marie-Emmanue Vehroeven, a psychologist by profession, is a devotee of Lord Buddha and was on her third visit to India to travel to different Buddhist places when she was arrested on February 17 after she entered India from Nepal.

Her arrest came in pursuance to a Red Corner Notice (RCN) issued by Interpol, which was subsequently withdrawn on May 30, 2015.

She was re-arrested on February 24, 2015, as a requirement under the Extradition Act, 1962.

Her re-arrest on February 24 was quashed by the Delhi High court by its September 21 order.

In the wake of high court order, Vehroeven was again arrested on September 22 after the Chilean embassy a day earlier urged the Indian government not to release her.

As Andhyarujina said Vehroeven could not be detained after the RCN was withdrawn, Additional Solicitor General P.S. Patwalia told the court that RCN was withdrawn by Interpol as it had “worked itself out” after her arrest.

Andhyarujina then read out from a CBI response before the Delhi High Court that the RCN was withdrawn by the Interpol on May 30, 2015. Patwalia – who appeared for the ministry of external affairs – pleaded ignorance about it.

At this, the apex court asked Patwalia: “If you arrest a person in pursuance to non-bailable warrant issued by court and then it (NBW) is withdrawn, can you still keep a person in custody?”

Justice Kurian observed that Indian constitution’s article 21 guaranteeing protection of life and personal liberty was not just for the citizens of India but for everyone.

Andhyarujina argued that Vehroeven could not be extradited to Chile as sought by it (Chile) as there was no extradition treaty between the two countries.

Andhyarujina also read out to the court a note verbale of September 21 by the Chilean embassy in New Delhi, saying that even though there was no extradition treaty between the two countries, Vehroeven should not be released and offered “reciprocity” in lieu of her extradition.

Additional Solicitor General Patwalia contested the submission that there was no extradition treaty between India and Chile, pointing out that the government had notified a British Extradition Act, 1867, providing for the extradition arrangement between India and Chile.

The court said it would examine all these aspects.

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