Venezuela Rejects US Extradition Request

August 9, 2011

Venezuela’s Supreme Court announced Monday that it has rejected a U.S. request for the extradition of a Venezuelan citizen who has been accused of sexually abusing several minors in the United States.

Former swim team coach Simon Daniel Chocron cannot be sent to the United States because Venezuela’s Constitution and laws strictly prohibit the extradition of its citizens, the court said. It said Chocron would face justice in Venezuela.

Chocron is accused of “obscene exhibition, lascivious acts, the sale or exhibition of pornographic material to minors and illegal sexual relations with minors” for acts committed at a school in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2000 and 2001, the court said.

Chocron jumped bail in 2001 while facing several charges of sexual battery against minors. He was arrested in Spain in 2003, when Spanish officials, who discovered his active warrants and contacted Jacksonville police.

The court’s statement suggested Chocron is currently in Venezuela, although his whereabouts could not be immediately verified.

Spokesmen for the Attorney General’s Office in Venezuela did not answer telephone calls seeking comment.

Chocron, a Florida State University graduate and former swim team member, faces 14 felony sexual charges and one charge of jumping his $250,000 bail.

In March 2001, a 15-year-old swimmer told police that she had engaged in sexual acts with Chocron, who was 27 at the time. Soon afterward, Chocron, a 25-kilometer open water world champion, was accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl.

Both teens have since sued Chocron and the Bolles School, an exclusive private boarding and day school south of downtown Jacksonville.

Interpol requested Chocron’s capture in 2004.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court said Chocron is currently prohibited from leaving Venezuela and from giving swimming lessons.

This article was published by the Associated Press on August 8, 2011.

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Venezuela Still Seeking Extradition of Cuban Militant; Trial Continues in Texas

February 3, 2011

For five years, the Venezuelan lawyer, José Pertierra, has been seeking the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, the Cuban militant and former C.I.A. operative, to stand trial in Venezuela in the bombing of a Cuban passenger jet in 1976, which killed everyone on board. But the State Department and the Justice Department have never presented the request to a federal judge.

Instead, the DOJ is prosecuting Posada, age 82, for having lied during two immigration hearings more than five years ago. Click here to read the DOJ press release.

To prove that Posada committed perjury, U.S. prosecutors plan to bring up evidence about bombings at Havana tourist spots in 1997. They say Posada took credit for those attacks in 1998, then later, under oath, denied that he had organized them.

But the trial is unlikely to shed light on his alleged role in the bombing of Cubana Flight 455 on October 6, 1976. The midair explosion killed 73 people, including teenagers from Cuba’s national fencing team.

A government informer, Carlos Abascal, testifying over five days last week, said he had traveled with Posada on a shrimp boat from the Yucatán Peninsula to Miami in 2005, where it landed at a waterfront restaurant, letting the old Cuban exile sneak into the United States. One part of the indictment charges Posada with lying under oath when he said he crossed through Mexico and entered the country in Brownsville, Texas.

A defense lawyer attacked Abascal’s credibility, interrogating him about his history of mental problems and showing records that documented schizophrenic episodes and hallucinations.

Venezuela has been demanding the extradition of Posada since he popped up in Miami, but the United States has so far rebuffed the request. Last June, the United States said in a diplomatic note that Venezuela had not presented enough evidence to show that the police had “probable cause” to arrest Posada for the bombing, Pertierra said.

The Justice and State Departments have declined comment on the case.

The United States’ position on Posada’s extradition was complicated in 2006, when an immigration judge in El Paso ruled that Posada should be deported but could not be sent back to Venezuela because he would probably face torture there.

American officials say that the immigration judge’s ruling and the perjury trial have tied their hands, but Venezuela has argued that neither should keep a federal judge from hearing the extradition case.

For a more in depth reading of the case against Posada, please click here.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Venezuelan President Publicly Requests U.S. to Extradite Alleged Bomber

September 15, 2010

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday that his country should ask the United States to extradite a man convicted in 2003 bombings who fled to Miami and is seeking asylum.

Chavez called Raul Diaz a terrorist in a televised Cabinet meeting, saying Venezuela is obliged to request his extradition even though he doubts the U.S. would turn him over.

Diaz maintains he is innocent and had no part in the 2003 bombings of the Spanish Embassy and Colombian consulate in Caracas, which injured four people.

Diaz told The Associated Press on Monday that he was able to escape because under the terms given him by a court, he was allowed to leave a prison during the day as long as he returned at night. He said he fled by boat to Trinidad, and flew to Miami on September 5.

Before fleeing, the 36-year-old had served six years of a nine-year prison sentence. He was convicted of damaging property, public intimidation, causing light injuries and conspiracy.

Diaz has called the case against him an example of rights violations under Chavez.

Chavez suggested that the U.S. government, with which he has tattered relations, is unlikely to oblige.

Chavez also cited the case of Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles, who lives in the United States and is wanted in Venezuela for allegedly plotting the 1976 bombing of the Cuban plane that killed 73 people. Posada denies the accusations.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Venezuelan President Pursuing Extradition of Alleged Fugitive TV Channel Owners from the US

July 16, 2010

President Hugo Chavez said Venezuela must pursue the extradition from the United States of fugitive owners of a television channel strongly critical of his government so that they are forced to face criminal charges at home.

Chavez rejected allegations by Globovision owner Guillermo Zuloaga and minority shareholder Nelson Mezerhane, who say the increasingly authoritarian president orchestrated their prosecution as payback for the TV channel’s stinging criticism of his government.

The self-proclaimed socialist leader said he hopes officials in Washington don’t protect Zuloaga and Mezerhane.

Zuloaga’s lawyer, Jenny Tambasco, announced this week that her client will not return to Venezuela to face criminal charges that he considers politically motivated.

Tambasco spoke after Zuloaga asked the Washington-based Organization of American States for help, saying he wants its human rights commission to determine if he truly committed a crime in Venezuela.

Chavez denied that he’s behind the charges against Zuloaga and Mezerhane.

Zuloaga disappeared last month after a court issued an arrest warrant for him and one of his sons. The TV owner has not requested political asylum in the United States. Prosecutors requested his capture and extradition last month, but the Venezuelan Supreme Court has not yet approved the extradition request.

Mezerhane, who was in Florida last month, has also called the case political retribution. The TV executive and bank owner, like his associate, has said he does not plan to return to Venezuela in the near future.

Chavez also announced Thursday that his government would seize control of shares that Mezerhane holds in a nickel mine known as Loma de Niquel, a subsidiary of the London-based Anglo American mining company. Mezerhane holds 6.3 percent of Loma’s shares.

Last month, the government took over a bank owned by Mezerhane, Banco Federal, citing alleged financial problems and irregularities. And Chavez has warned that authorities may seize other assets belonging to Mezerhane to cover deposits, including the banker’s stake in Globovision.

Prosecutors want Zuloaga jailed while he awaits trial on charges of usury and conspiracy for keeping 24 new vehicles stored at a home he owns. Investigators allege that Zuloaga, who owns several car dealerships, was waiting for the vehicles’ market prices to rise, which is punishable under Venezuelan law.

Allies of Chavez have been angered by Zuloaga’s refusal to return, and disputed his claims that the country’s justice system leans in the government’s favor.

Globovision has recently been airing critical coverage of a scandal involving thousands of tons of food found beyond expiration dates and rotting in government storage. The 24-hour news station is also closely covering Colombia’s allegations that Marxist rebel leaders are allegedly hiding out in Venezuelan territory.

Globovision has been the only anti-Chavez channel on air since another channel, RCTV, was forced off cable and satellite in January. RCTV was previously booted from the open airwaves after the government refused to renew its broadcast license in 2007.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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