In the Matter of the Extradition of Rasema Handanovic, 3:11-mc-9097-ST (D. Ore. 2011), presents several noteworthy aspects of the international practice issues that arise in an international extradition proceeding.  In particular, the extent to which a U.S. court will protect the due process rights of a potential criminal defendant in an international war crimes case is evident.

The extradition request was made by the Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The object of the request is Rasema Handanovic, a/k/a Zolja, who allegedly is a citizen of B&H resident in Beaverton, Oregon.   The purpose of the requested extradition is

for the purpose of prosecution and trial before the Court of Bosnia for probable cause that she committed the offence of “war crimes against civilians” under Article 173(1)(a) and (b) of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina and for probable cause that she committed the offence of “war crimes against prisoners of war” under Article 175(1)(a) and (b) of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in combination with Articles 180(1) and 29 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The United States is the party requesting the extradition, on behalf of the Government of B&H.  The Court determined that the extradition hearing “does not decide guilt or innocence, but is analogous to a preliminary hearing to determine the existence of probably cause for a criminal charge.

In deciding the issues before it, the Court went through the following analysis:

First, the Court determined that a valid treaty existed between the U.S. and B&H via a the descent of a 1902 treaty between the U.S. the former republic of Servia (the earlier transliteration of Serbia).

Second, the Court determined that defects in the requisite arrest warrant were insufficient to constitute a defense, and the Court found that a post-challenge arrest warrant with an expression of an intention to charge sufficed in lieu of an actual charge.

Third, the Court limited the extraditable offenses to charges of murder or attempted murder, thereby avoiding challenge.  This limitation then permitted the Court to avoid a statute of limitations issue, there being no limitations period for capital crimes.

Finally, the Court found probable cause.