Extradition From Philippines Halted
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ A Philippine court has temporarily stopped the government from complying with a U.S. request to extradite a businessman accused of making illegal campaign contributions to President Clinton.
Judge Ralph Lantion of the Manila regional trial court barred the Justice Department and other agencies from pursuing the extradition of Mark Jimenez for 20 days. Jiminez is a close friend of President Joseph Estrada.
The court apparently needed time to evaluate a petition by Jimenez’s lawyers requesting Justice Department documents on the extradition request. The lawyers also wanted Jimenez to be given the chance to defend himself against being extradited.
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 campaign financing charges.
He was indicted in Washington in September on 17 counts of illegally giving nearly $40,000 to Democratic Party candidates. An additional indictment in April charged him also with conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud.
Jimenez fled the United States in December. He returned to the Philippines, 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 both countries fight terrorism, drug trafficking and other cross-border crimes.