Philippines Extradition Continues
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed extradition proceedings to continue against a Filipino businessman sought by the United States on charges of making illegal campaign contributions to President Clinton.
The court issued an order that nullified a lower court’s ruling temporarily stopping the Department of Justice from proceeding with a U.S. request to extradite Mark Jimenez, a friend of President Joseph Estrada.
The Supreme Court gave no reason for its decision. The lower court’s ruling had come under criticism because it was viewed as a premature attempt to block extradition.
In his Aug. 9 order, Judge Ralph Lantion of the Manila regional trial court barred the Department of Justice and other agencies from pursuing the extradition of Jimenez for 20 days.
The court apparently needed time to evaluate a petition by Jimenez’s lawyers requesting Department of Justice documents on the extradition request. The lawyers also wanted Jimenez to be given the chance to defend himself against extradition.
In June, the U.S. Embassy asked the Philippine government to arrest and extradite Jimenez on charges of tax evasion, wire fraud, conspiracy, giving false statements and illegal campaign financing.
He was indicted in Washington last September on 17 counts of illegally giving nearly $40,000 to Democratic Party candidates. An additional indictment in April also charged him with conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud.
Jimenez fled from the United States in December. Returning to the Philippines, he helped broker several large business deals, and became a friend and adviser to Estrada.
U.S. and Philippine officials signed extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties in November 1996 to help fight terrorism, drug trafficking and other cross-border crimes.