Interpol Red Notice for Luka Rocco Magnotta

 by Larry W.O. Smeets

An international manhunt for a Canadian suspect intensified today as authorities identified the victim of a gruesome killing and dismemberment as Jun Lin, 33, a Chinese student studying in Montreal.


Luka Rocco Magnotta, a self-styled porn star who fled Canada last weekend, is now wanted for first-degree murder and carrying out an indignity to a human body. Magnotta flew out of Montreal’s Trudeau airport on May 26; he is suspected of being in France. It is reported that France’s fugitive search unit has been ordered to hunt for Magnotta.


Interpol posted a picture and information concerning Magnotta on its website Thursday. Interpol’s involvement came after Montreal police issued a worldwide warrant for first-degree murder. Interpol has issued a Red Notice.


“There is no country in the world that is not talking about him,” Lafrenière said. “There’s a lot of heat on him. There’s a lot of pressure on him, so we believe that it’s going to be hard for him.”


What are the legal effects of an Interpol Red Notice?


Such a notice does not work as an international warrant for Magnotta’s arrest.  Instead it works as an all-points bulletin to the member countries of Interpol.  When a person subject to a Red Notice comes to the attention of local police, the country seeking issuance of the Red Notice is notified through Interpol.  That country can then request the provisional arrest of the person concerned (if there is urgency); or can file with the government concerned a formal request for extradition of the person concerned.  A person who is subject to a Red Notice is liable to be arrested by the local authorities and made subject to extradition proceedings.


When national authorities become aware that a Red Notice has been issued for the arrest of someone like Magnotta, and that person enters their jurisdiction and as such becomes subject to their authority, they may be required under international law to arrest that person and notify the authorities of the country that issued the Red Notice.

Once a Red Notice is issued, if the person concerned is arrested, the prosecutor’s office in the country issuing the Red Notice is obligated to do whatever work is required to produce the documents necessary to proceed with extradition within the time limits set out in the extradition treaty in effect between the two countries concerned.  In addition, the country requesting extradition is required to pay the expenses arising out of the extradition process as set out in the governing treaty.  This means that prosecutors in the country requesting extradition must be satisfied before any Red Notice is requested that the case is significant enough to warrant placing their government under such an obligation.


Could Magnotta challenge the Red Notice and remain wherever he may be at present, outside the reach of Canadian authorities?


If Interpol is not satisfied that the Red Notice contains all the information necessary to support a valid request for a provisional arrest, or if Interpol concludes that the request is inspired by considerations that are of a political, religious, military, or racial character, it has the power to refuse to issue a Red Notice.  Interpol is permitted under its constitution to issue a Red Notice only “if it is satisfied that all the conditions for processing the information have been fulfilled.  For example, a notice will not be published if it violates Article 3 of the Constitution, which forbids the Organization from undertaking any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”  A request can be made to Interpol for a copy of the information provided by the country that issued the Red Notice.  Once received, the material can be reviewed for accuracy.  If the information used as the basis for issuance of the Red Notice can be shown to be inaccurate or inspired by improper political or other considerations, then an application can be made to Interpol by or on behalf of the person concerned to have the file modified, suppressed, or cancelled.  If Interpol refuses to comply, then the person subject to a Red Notice may be able to make use of an internal appeal process.


It is important to note that Interpol has no obligation to respond to individuals like Magnotta who are subject to a Red Notice.  Under certain circumstances, such individuals may engage governments to intervene on their behalf in dealing with Interpol.  Certainly there are instances when governments have acted in such a manner.  Witness the steps taken by the United States recently.  Officials in the administration of American President Barack Obama in early April 2012 petitioned Interpol to deny the request by the Egyptian government to arrest American and other nongovernmental workers accused of operating illegally democracy programs in Egypt and of stirring unrest there.


In Magnotta’s particular case though, given the particular circumstances of his case, it is highly improbable that this will occur. In effect, the issuance of the Interpol Red Notice has rendered him ‘land locked’. As soon as he presents himself at any customs or immigration office anywhere in an attempt to move between countries, he will probably be arrested and eventually returned to Canada for prosecution.

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