SC questions Centre for opposing French woman's release

New Delhi,November 8:The Supreme Court has questioned the government's stand of opposing the release of a French woman facing extradition on charges of involvement in the assassination of a Chilean senator in 1991.

A bench headed by Justice Kurian Joseph quizzed the Centre over its contradictory stand of allowing two Italian marines, accused of shooting dead two Kerala fishermen, to be released while opposing release of the French woman.

"What problem you have if the French government is giving its undertaking? You allow the foreign nationals in the other case to go back. If you respect Italian government then you should also respect French government," the bench observed.

The observation came after Additional Solicitor General PS Patwalia, appearing for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), opposed the release of 56-year-old French national Marie Emmanuelle Verhoeven.

Patwalia contended that Chilean authorities have written to India to detain her so that she can be extradited.

The apex court granted a week's time to the Ministry after the ASG sought time to get instructions with regard to the release of the French woman and posted the matter for next hearing on November 16.

Verhoeven is alleged to have participated in the assassination of Chilean senator Jaime Guzman Errazuriz on April 1, 1991.

She has denied the charge and claimed that she was falsely implicated due to her participation in special human rights missions.

Verhoeven was arrested on February 16 in Uttar Pradesh while she was entering India from Nepal and has been in judicial custody ever since.

Extradition proceedings were initiated against Verhoeven on the request of the Chilean government, which had alleged that she had participated in a conspiracy to commit a terror attack which had led to the death of Errazuriz.

In her plea opposing the extradition proceedings, she has contended that the treaty was ultra vires to the Constitution.

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