LYON, France – Delegates at the 74th INTERPOL General Assembly have upheld the unanimous decision by INTERPOL’s Executive Committee to cancel Red Notices issued by an Argentinean judge accused of corruption.
In November 2003, following a request by Argentina, INTERPOL issued Red Notices for 12 Iranian nationals for allegedly participating in the terrorist bombing of the Israel-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA) and Office of the Israel-Argentine Association (DAIA) in Buenos Aires in 1994.
In January 2004, Iranian authorities sought to have the Red Notices cancelled because of alleged irregularities by the investigating judge, such as the bribery of a key prosecution witness. Iran argued that the Red Notices were therefore in violation of INTERPOL’s Constitution and rules.
In September 2004, the Argentinean court assigned to review similar complaints concluded that the investigating magistrate who had signed the arrest warrants for the 12 Iranians and other suspects, was corrupt, had engaged in 'substantial violations of the rules of due process' and 'irregular and illegal actions,' and should be removed.
In October 2004, after review of the Argentinean court’s opinion, INTERPOL suspended all 12 Red Notices and asked both countries for additional information. Iran and Argentina presented their cases to INTERPOL’s 13-member Executive Committee which decided unanimously to order the cancellation of the Red Notices. Votes by members of the Executive Committee are cast on behalf of the region they represent, not their home countries.
The Argentinean INTERPOL National Central Bureau appealed, arguing that subsequent letters stating that Argentina still considered the Red Notices valid should cure any defect associated with the arrest warrants signed by the judge fired for corruption. The Executive Committee believed that only newly issued arrest warrants signed by a different judge could cure the defects. The General Assembly, INTERPOL’s supreme governing body then heard Argentina’s appeal and overwhelmingly endorsed the Executive Committee’s decision to cancel the Red Notices.
After the vote by the General Assembly, President Jackie Selebi made the following statement.
'INTERPOL was asked to validate the arrest warrants signed by a judge removed by Argentine authorities for pervasive misconduct in this very case,' said Mr Selebi.
'When Argentina removed him for judicial misconduct, including bribery of a main witness, INTERPOL could no longer honour this judge's arrest warrants.'
The INTERPOL General Secretariat will continue to work with the Argentinean authorities in the investigation of the 1994 bombings and has offered every assistance in bringing those responsible to justice.
INTERPOL Red Notices are only issued if the requesting National Central Bureau has provided all the information required by the General Secretariat, including details of a valid arrest warrant for the country in question.
Red Notices are one of the ways in which INTERPOL informs its 184 member countries that an arrest warrant has been issued for an individual by a judicial authority. It is not an international arrest warrant.
The individuals concerned are wanted by national jurisdictions (or International Criminal Tribunals, where appropriate) and INTERPOL's role is to assist national police.