On April 28, the Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and NV Ramana, dismissed the plea of French citizen, Verhoeven, Marie-Emmanuelle, against her detention in India, since February 2015 and her imminent extradition to Chile on the basis of an extradition request from Chile. Her alleged offence was that she had perpetrated a terrorist attack leading to the assassination of Chilean Senator, Jamie Guzman Errazuriz on 1 April 1991.
On 24 June, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM), New Delhi, Shunali Gupta, granted her conditional bail, thus giving her respite from continued detention in India.
In the Supreme Court, Verhoeven had challenged the existence of a binding extradition treaty between India and Chile. Having lost that challenge, Verhoeven moved her second bail application before the trial court, which had dismissed her first one.
Her counsel told the Magistrate that she is 56 years of age, and has been languishing in jail since more than 16 months. On 16 February, 2015, she had entered India from Nepal on the basis of valid visa issued by India. She had come to India for pilgrimage as she is a devotee of Buddhist faith, and was visiting India for spiritual reason.
Verhoeven had spent a part of her life in Chile from 1985 tyo 1995 when she was a member of Latin American Economic and Social Committee and had participated in Special Human Rights Mission. She was an officer of prison administration in Chile.
In 2014, when she was arrested at Hamburg airport, Germany, on the basis of Interpol red corner notice of Chile, a German court had declined the request for her extradition to Chile, holding it to be unlawful.
Her counsel told the ACMM that she is a victim of political vendetta orchestrated by the Government of Chile.
The ACMM took note of the note verbale dated 23 May 2016 issued by the French Embassy in New Delhi to Indian government, in which France sought release of the detenu on humanitarian grounds. “Ms Verhoeven is under great psychological and physical stress, and has suffered from severe detention conditions”, France observed in its note verbale. France, however, paid its due regards to the Supreme Court’s judgment, upholding the existence of extradition treaty between India and Chile.
Surprisingly, despite the French request, the Indian government opposed the grant of bail to Verhoeven, on the ground that France does not stand guarantee for its citizens in litigious matters.
Thereafter, France again issued another note verbale on 9 June 2016, expressing its no objection to the ACMM seizing Verhoeven’s French passport or French embassy keeping her passport in safe custody, with the condition that it would not be handed over to her unless the Indian authorities permit.
The ACMM noted that the extradition proceedings against Verhoeven may take time to conclude, and therefore, she deemed fit to grant her bail on the condition that she furnished a personal bond in the sum of Rs.5 lacs with two sureties of the like amount. The ACMM also asked Verhoeven to surrender her passport to the court, and not to leave the National Capital Region, without prior permission of the court.
According to her lawyer, Ramni Taneja, Verhoeven was on fast in Tihar jail, where she was lodged, from June 11 to 24, and she broke the fast, only after hearing the news of the ACMM granting her bail.
The ACMM’s order may be read here.