French national Marie Emmanuelle Verhoeven’s legal battle in India against her extradition to Chile finally came to end, with the Indian government Wednesday ordering her discharge on “health and humanitarian grounds”. Verhoeven is wanted as a suspect in the killing of Jaime Guzmán Errázuriz, a senator under the Pinochet regime.
The Ministry of External Affairs informed Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Jyoti Kler that the “Union of India has decided to withdraw the present extradition inquiry” under relevant sections of the Extradition Act, 1962.
“… Central Government, having considered the French request, the mental and physical health of Marie Emmanuelle Verhoeven, and the commitment of the French government in this matter, decides that it would (be) just and expedient to allow Marie Emmanuelle Verhoeven on health and humanitarian grounds to go to France,” said the MEA, in its order.
Verhoeven was facing a legal trial in a Delhi court to block her extradition to Chile. After her arrest on February 16, 2015, she was sent to Tihar Jail. She was granted bail a year later. The order for discharge comes after the French Embassy in Delhi requested the Government of India that since Verhoeven “is not keeping good health and is suffering from various medical problems as per medical records, resulting in deteriorating mental and physical condition, she may be allowed to return to her family and friends in France”.
The Delhi court was recording prosecution evidence in the case after the government, in December 2015, requested it
to look into Chile’s extradition request. According to Ramni Taneja, the lawyer fighting her case in Delhi, Verhoeven was an Officer of the Prison Administration in Chile. In 1987, she joined the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago as a special rapporteur.
A member of the Latin American Economic and Social Committee, Verhoeven lived in Chile from 1985 to 1995. During her stay there, she took part in many human rights missions. While she claimed she was being “politically persecuted by the Government of Chile because she bravely defended human rights of prisoners”, Chilean authorities said the Far Left group — Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front — carried out the killing and that Verhoeven was a suspect because of her links to the organisation.
Chilean authorities had approached Interpol and a Red Corner Notice was put out for Verhoeven. On January 25, 2014, she was arrested at Hamburg airport by German police. But she was freed on June 6, 2014, after a German court rejected a plea for her extradition to Chile.
On February 16, 2015, she was stopped at the Indo-Nepal border at Sunauli as she tried to enter Uttar Pradesh. Acting on the Red Corner Notice, Indian authorities arrested her saying she was a “fugitive criminal” wanted in Chile for a terror attack in which a senator had been killed.