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Peruvian National’s Extradition Ordered for Killing Innocent Children, Civilians

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) appealed a 2005 U.S. District Court ruling that prevented the extradition of Peruvian national Wilmer Ordinola. The DOJ argued that his heinous crimes against innocent children and civilians did not fall under the political offense exception of the U.S. Peru Extradition Treaty. The ruling was reversed and remanded for a Certificate of Extraditibility.

While he was Group Chief of a Peruvian special operations paramilitary squad in 1991 and 1992, Ordinola committed various inhumane acts against children and civilians, including murder. Ordinola’s original focus was the ouster of Sendero Luminoso (a.k.a. The Shining Path) from Peru. The Shining Path, founded in the late 1960’s, is a radical left wing guerilla organization “with a Maoist Communist ideology dedicated to the violent overthrow of Peru’s democratic government and social structure.” By the 1980’s The Shining Path was regarded as “the most brutal, vindictive, and elusive terrorist insurgency in the Western Hemisphere.” In the course of combating The Shining Path, Ordinola resorted to inhumane crimes against children and civilians, including making them dig their own graves before killing them. He emerged in the United States in 2001 seeking political asylum.

In 2001, the Inter American Court of Human Rights found that Ordinola’s criminal acts were in violation of Articles Four and Five of the American Convention on Human Rights. In 2004, a U.S. Magistrate Judge held that his crimes were not within the exceptions provided in the U.S.-Peru Extradition Treaty, and certified his extradition to the Secretary of State. In 2005, however, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted Ordinola’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, and held that his actions were justified within the exception’s provisions as anti terrorist strategy, overruling the magistrate judge’s decision. The DOJ appealed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in a case of first impression, held that the district court had erred in reviewing the entire case de novo, affording no deference to the magistrate judge’s factual findings. The appellate court ruled it was improper to disregard factual findings in order to reach a desired legal conclusion. It was also noted that the State Department’s prior holding still stood, which expressed that “the political offense exception is not applicable to violent attacks on civilians.” See: Ordinola v. Hackman, 478 F.3d 588 (4th Cir. 2007), cert. denied.

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Related legal case

Ordinola v. Hackman