SANTIAGO — Chile’s Supreme Court affirmed a decision to reject the United States’ request to extradite Chilean businessman Carlos Cardoen. He has been charged in connection with the export of zirconium to Iraq. The court said the requirements for extradition had not been met.
In March, Supreme Court Minister Carlos Aránguiz rejected the United States’ extradition request for businessman Carlos Cardoen. Thereafter, the U.S. appealed, and now the High Court affirmed its decision.
In 1993, Cardoen was red-flagged by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), and has been unable to leave Chile since then. He has been charged with eight counts related to the illegal selling of zirconium – a bomb-making material – to Iraq back in the ’80s when Sadam Hussein was in power.
According to news outlet El Desconcierto, the U.S. accused Cardoen of illegally selling 29,000 bombs to Iraq and making a fortune of US$200 million from it. Even though he had been on the Interpol red alert list since 1993, the U.S. government did not formally file a request for his detention until March 2019.
When the extradition request was initially denied earlier this year and the U.S. appealed, Cardoen’s attorney, Joanna Heskia, told La Tercera that “the requesting State’s appeal is only repeating arguments that have already been rejected throughout the process. Indeed, they did not present any new evidence and, in that sense, the ruling is correct.”
In an interview with news outlet Meganoticias, Cardoen assured that he never did anything the Chilean or the American government did not know: “I sold to the Iraqi regime with the full support and assistance of the U.S. government. I had the military frequently visiting our plants and applauding the process.”
In addition, Cardoen said the reason the U.S. is going after him after so many years is merely political, adding that “at the time, Saddam Hussein was a star for the United States.”
More on Carlos Cardoen:
U.S. Request For Carlos Cardoen Rejected
The Supreme Court has now put an end to the quest to try Cardoen on U.S. soil for the alleged sale to Iraq. The court said it had been too long since Cardoen was accused of the crime.
The ruling invokes article VII of treaty signed between Chile and the United States, which says “extradition shall not be granted, in pursuance of the provisions of this Treaty if legal proceedings or the enforcement of the penalty for the act committed by the person claimed has become barred by limitation, according to the laws of the country to which the requisition is addressed.” This is because the right to prosecute Cardoen in Chile for the alleged crimes has already expired under the applicable Chilean statute of limitations.
Cardoen recorded a video thanking the Supreme Court for rejecting the extradition request against him. In the recording, he said this “brings justice after 30 years of fierce persecution that never had any legal basis.”
Edited by Claudio Moraga
Fernanda Gándara is currently finishing her journalism degree at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She’s passionate about writing, environmental issues and women empowerment. You can find her on Twitter as @FerGMarchant