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Cablegate: Spain/Al-Kassar: Extradition Not Likely Until New

VZCZCXRO4197
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHMD #0312 0731638
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131638Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4480
INFO RUEHBS/DEA BRUSSELS BE PRIORITY
RUEHNA/DEA HQS WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNFB/FBI WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 0346
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 3362

C O N F I D E N T I A L MADRID 000312

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR S/CT COORDINATOR DAILEY AND EUR/WE
NSC FOR JUAN ZARATE
DEA FOR MICHAEL BRAUN AND THOMAS HARRIGAN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/12/2018
TAGS: PTER PREL PGOV SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN/AL-KASSAR: EXTRADITION NOT LIKELY UNTIL NEW
GOVERNMENT IS IN PLACE

REF: MADRID 007

Classified By: Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre, Jr. for Reasons 1.4 (b) and
(d)

1. (C) The Spanish Council of Ministers (COM) on March 7
failed to discuss and approve the U.S. request for the
extradition of Syrian arms dealer Monzer Al-Kassar during its
final meeting before Spaniards went to the polls to elect
Spain's next government. The Ambassador and DCM followed up
with senior GOS officials to press them on the status of the
case. The Ambassador phoned Foreign Minister Moratinos on
March 7 to express his disappointment over the COM's failure
to approve the extradition, and the DCM contacted Deputy
Justice Minister Perez-Hernandez on March 12 to congratulate
him on the elections results and to request an update on the
case. Both officials said that some "technical and legal
issues" have blocked action on the matter. Perez-Hernandez
told the DCM that the MOJ still did not have formal
notification of the written decision from Appeals Court Judge
Gomez-Bermudez and therefore could not send the decision to
the COM for final review and approval. There appears to be a
disconnect, as the DCM met with Judge Gomez-Bermudez in late
February and received assurance that the decision was
completed and had been sent to the Ministry of Justice, and
Perez-Hernandez's deputy told Embassy LES legal advisor on
March 3 that all documentation was in order and ready to go
to the COM. We will do what we can to sort through the
confusion and obtain a copy of the official written appeals
court decision. Regardless of the status of the decision, we
are again in a holding pattern for the next several weeks.
Embassy Madrid's legal advisor tells us that Spanish law
prohibits an "interim" government (such as we have now
pending the formation of the new Zapatero administration in
April) from approving extradition cases, preventing the
Spanish government from taking action until the new
government is seated and the new Council of Ministers
convenes, probably in late April or early May.

2. (C) COMMENT: Further to REFTEL comprehensive review of
the ongoing case, we have continued efforts to achieve
Al-Kassar's successful extradition to the United States.
Bureaucratic delays, a labor strike at Spain's National Court
now in its sixth week, and a probable desire on the part of
the government to avoid this case becoming a negative
electoral issue, served to slow this process more than we
would have liked. Our objective now is to ensure that Judge
Gomez-Bermudez and the Ministry of Justice are on the same
page in regards to the written decision so that the Council
of Ministers is prepared to deal with this issue when the new
government takes office. The Ambassador plans to engage
directly with Justice Minister Fernandez Bermejo to ensure
prompt attention to this matter. The Madrid Country Team
will continue to work this case at the highest levels to
reinforce to the Spanish government our desire to see
Al-Kassar in U.S. custody as soon as possible. Other than
the delay described above, we have every reason to believe
the extradition will move forward.
AGUIRRE

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