(Trends Wide Español) — The extradition to the United States of Hugo Carvajal, former director of Military Intelligence of Venezuela, continues to be surrounded by uncertainty.
The journey of his process began on April 12, 2019, when the retired general was arrested in Madrid for the first time on charges brought against him by the US justice: alleged narco-terrorist conspiracy, possession of weapons and drug trafficking.
As reported then by the US Department of Justice, the former Venezuelan official could spend between 60 years in prison and life imprisonment for these crimes.
Carvajal has always pleaded not guilty and claims to be the target of political persecution.
During this time the legal process suffered several ups and downs. In September 2019, the Third Criminal Section of the National High Court rejected, in the first instance, his delivery.
Two months later, after an appeal filed by the Spanish Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office, the Plenary of the Criminal Chamber of the National High Court reversed the decision and accepted his extradition. Carvajal then decided to escape, but last September he was captured by the Spanish National Police.
Currently, in Spain everything is ready for Carvajal to board a plane to New York. After the approval of its delivery by the National Court and the Council of Ministers of Spain, it only remains for the US to ratify the procedural guarantees requested by Spain; that is, that they will only be tried for the crimes that are the object of their surrender, that their rights will be respected and that they will have the possibility of presenting an appeal.
What does Hugo Carvajal’s lawyer say
However, María Dolores Argüelles, her lawyer in Madrid, has several aces up her sleeve that could delay her delivery.
Argüelles confirms to Trends Wide that his client has pending resolution an appeal before the Contentious Chamber of the National Court against the refusal of the Ministry of the Interior to grant him asylum in Spain.
“Theoretically, and based on European provisions, until there is a first resolution of a court, delivery cannot be granted,” says the lawyer. As indicated, these types of appeals can take a year and a half to resolve.
In addition, the defender is also waiting to be notified of the resolution of the Fifth Section of the Contentious-Administrative of the Supreme Court, which on October 26 rejected the appeal filed against the agreement of the Council of Ministers of March 3, 2020 by which his delivery to the United States was approved.
“As soon as we have the resolutions, we can ask ourselves if there is a violation of fundamental rights, which would open an appeal to us before the Constitutional Court,” says Argüelles.
His persistent legal action, materialized in multiple appeals that have been dismissed throughout the process, has been perceived by the National High Court as a “delaying strategy.”
In the event that response times for pending procedures accelerate, Carvajal’s delivery to the other side of the Atlantic could be precipitated in a matter of days or weeks.
“Well, it is complicated, because in the United States, in 90% of the trials agreements are reached. And he, unless later he has a lawyer who tells him to do something else, says that he is not going to plead guilty to something that he is not. So, he is not going to want any kind of agreement and he is going to have to fight in a trial, ”says Argüelles.
At the moment it is not known who could relieve Argüelles in the United States, although he assumes that he must already be in search of a good lawyer. “(Carvajal) has been in intelligence for a lot of years, he leaves nothing to chance; even, maybe, I already had it from before ”, Argüelles adventure.
The charges facing Carvajal
Be that as it may, his arrival in the United States is drawn as much media as the whole process in Spain has been.
Among the major charges he will have to face is the accusation that he would be part of the Cartel of the Suns, a criminal group that, according to the US Department of Justice, is controlled by the Venezuelan military and whose name would honor the insignia of their uniforms.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office for the Southern District of New York, as a member of this organization, Carvajal, together with the now demobilized Colombian guerrilla, the FARC, would have planned to “flood” the North American nation with cocaine to affect the well-being of the population.
But Argüelles affirms that “as a terrorist and armed organization [el Cártel de los Soles] does not exist”. And about the alleged collaboration with the FARC, the lawyer says that “it is the same collaboration that anyone who belongs to a government can have and who speaks with an organized and armed gang to try to return the weapons, to stop the work they do. they are carrying out, that they return a person who is illegally detained. In other words, it is a work authorized by their government, with the knowledge of the Colombian government and in its political-military aspect, “he adds.
Given the doubts that the future of his extradition presents, Argüelles says that it only remains to wait. However, he relies on his legal strategy, designed to exhaust every resource in his hands to avoid a delivery that is clearly inevitable, but without a date.