On January 29, 1989, the Commission received a complaint by Mr.
Sheik Kadir Sahib Tajudeen, a national of Singapore residing in Costa
Rica, in which he states the following:
That he has been living in Costa Rica for ten years and that by a
criminal conviction in the Third Superior Court of Grasse, France,
against several individuals, himself among them, he was sentenced to 20
years in prison and a fine of 10 million francs; in his case the
sentence was handed down in default.
That the French authorities requested his extradition through an
arrest order dated November 8, 1985, issued by the trial judge of the
Superior Court of Grasse, followed by a judgment in default dated
November 26, 1986, by the Court of Grasse for the crimes of drug
trafficking, association for drug trafficking, import and export of
prohibited merchandise, and fraud.
That such request for extradition was granted by the Second
Criminal Court of San Jose on January 9, 1989, in accordance with
Extradition Law 5991 in effect in Costa Rica, since there is no treaty
between that country and France in this regard.
The petitioner was contesting the decision by the Costa Rican
court because it accepts as grounds for extradition a judgment in
absentia as established under French law and because the extradition
grant constitutes unequal treatment for foreigners and nationals,
inasmuch as the latter cannot be expelled from the country.
That such granting of extradition constitutes a violation of the
provisions of Article 8 (Judicial Guarantees) of the Constitution of
Costa Rica and Article 24 (Right to Equal Protection) of the American
Convention on Human Rights.
The petitioner maintained that there was a lack of due process
because the Court denied him the opportunity to prove that he was in
Costa Rica at the time of the events upon which his conviction in the
French courts was based.
He further asserted that he had filed and exhausted all remedies
under domestic jurisdiction, and he provided as background a copy of the
resolution by the Second Criminal Court whereby the extradition was
2. On March 22, 1989, the petitioner added evidence showing that the lower court's judgment had been upheld by the Supreme Court of Justice by a vote taken on March 20, 1989; he requested precautionary measures to prevent this extradition until the international proceeding with the Inter-American Commission was completed.
The Commission forwarded the complaint to the Government of Costa
Rica in a note dated February 1, 1989, and requested a response within
90 days. On April 13, 1989,
during the Commission's 75th session, the Government presented its
answer at a hearing held that day to hear the petitioner and the
Government and to reach a decision on the precautionary measures
requested. The pertinent
parts of the Government's answer maintained:
That the case involves no discrimination because the equality
provided for in the Constitution must be interpreted, according to the
jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, to mean "when the individuals
have equal status." The
Political Constitution grants foreigners equal rights "...with the
limitations and exceptions that this Constitution and the laws
establish." Article 32
of this Constitution prohibits the expulsion of Costa Ricans from
national territory, and therefore extradition applies only to cases
That the petitioner had the right to due process in Costa Rica
and that if his procedural right was allegedly violated in another
country --which the Costa Rican court ruling found was not
the case after analyzing the background of the case-- the
complainant must seek relief in that country and not in Costa Rica.
That cancellation of his residency permit, the administrative
order for expulsion, and the court°s
decision to agree to the extradition request were done legally by the
authorities, in strict compliance with the specific standards and based
on requests for arrest and nonappealable judgment handed down in France;
that such judgment does not come under the jurisdiction protected by the
American Convention on Human Rights and that it is not up to Costa Rica
to assess, question, or sanction it.
That there were various legal remedies available to the
complainant in Costa Rica that he did not exhaust and therefore the
domestic appeals had not been exhausted as of that date.
That because of the foregoing, it asks that the case and the
precautionary measures requested be declared inadmissible.
At its 75th session, the Commission decided to reject the
petition that had been made for precautionary measures, considering that
there was no immediate danger that rights protected by the Convention
would be violated, and it decided to continue the proceedings.
On June 5, 1989, the petitioner again addressed the Commission in
order to add to his complaint, maintaining that, due to a falsification
committed by a Costa Rican police official, an attempt was being made to
extradite him when the person sought by the French authorities was
someone else. He maintained
that the American Convention had been violated with regard to Article 8
(Right to a Fair Trial) and with regard to the right to personal liberty
recognized by Article 7, since during this entire period he was under
On June 19, 1989, the petitioner, through his representatives,
asked the Commission to place itself at the disposal of the parties
concerned with a view to reaching a friendly settlement (Article 48 of
the American Convention). He
also reported several legal actions he was taking in the domestic
The Government replied on September 21, 1989, referring at length
to the so-called error in identity, indicating various public
documents in which he was identified as Mohammad Ali.
It also indicated that, in view of the nature of the case, it was
not in a position to accept the procedure of friendly settlement
provided for in Article 48 of the Convention.
The petitioner's representatives again appeared in a hearing
before the Commission at its 76th session (September 18 through 29,
1989) and reaffirmed his complaints and the aforementioned alleged error
The Government answered in an extensive brief dated November 13,
1989, received at a hearing by the Commission.
Expanding on its previous answer, the Government described the
legal appeals exercised by the petitioner and asked that the petition be
declared inadmissible on the grounds that he did not exhaust domestic
remedies, in particular the remedy of review before the Third Chamber of
the Supreme Court. This
presentation was conveyed to the petitioner, and he was given a period
of time in which to reply.
In a reply dated December 10, 1989, the petitioner's
representatives repeated their allegations concerning the error in
identity between the person whose extradition was requested and the
petitioner, and other allegations concerning the lack of due process.
They again objected to articles in the press allegedly violating
the honor and dignity of the person they were defending.
These allegations were again repeated by the petitioner's
representatives in notes dated June 12, 19, and 25, 1990, which were
forwarded to the Government for a reply.
On December 18, 1990, the petitioner's representatives brought
new information to the Commission's attention, concerning the proceeding
that had been under way against Mr. Muhammad Ali in France, and in
particular concerning the fact that such proceeding had not included
fingerprints proving his identity.
They also included a dactyloscopic comparison by a criminal
expert from which it appears basically that the identification record
used by the Swiss police referring to Mohammad Ali, born on January 29,
1944, in Bombay, India; native of Pakistan; son of Shaikh Qader; mother,
Mihideen Beeyi; wife, Jalia Mohammad; businessman, matches that of Mr.
Sheik Kadir Sahib Jajudeen, taken in Costa Rica in November 1990 by the
same expert in the presence of the petitioner's attorney. They also pointed out certain procedures that in their
opinion could have been carried out differently.
The expert also pointed out that both the photograph and the
physical description sent by the Interpol office fit or could be
attributed to the petitioner.
The petitioners also indicated that domestic remedies had been
exhausted because the extradition law contemplated appeal only, so that
the judgment became unappealable in June 1989; that various petitions
for habeas corpus had been rejected; that it had already been determined
that the detention was legitimate; and that the appeal for review
presented on June 22, 1989, had been rejected by the Third Chamber of
the Supreme Court on November 3, 1989.
Concerning the exhaustion of domestic remedies.
The Commission believes that it must address this matter because
it has been introduced by the Government of Costa Rica, which requested
that the petition be declared inadmissible on the grounds of a failure
to exhaust domestic remedies. The
Commission is also taking into account the petitions of habeas corpus
filed and ruled upon, including, among others, the one ruled upon by the
Supreme Court of Justice on December 13, 1989.
From the presentations made by both parties, it is clear that the
petitioner has made use of numerous remedies under domestic law, which
were exhausted; the Commission also established that the petitioner has
continually introduced alleged "new facts," adding
extemporaneous arguments and complaints that have drawn out this case
beyond what is reasonable and have delayed a final decision; the
Commission cannot fail to point this out, because it concerns the
probity and good faith that the parties to proceedings before this
Commission must observe; the Commission did not say so earlier so that
it could not be said that the right to self-defense had been
In this particular case, the Commission considers that, for the
purposes provided for by the Convention, the petitioner has exhausted
the domestic remedies for the matters to be decided by this Commission
regarding alleged violations of his rights to personal liberty, to legal
personality as concerns personal identity, and to due process, since
Costa Rican courts have handed down unappealable rulings on these
conditions, among many others.
identification of the detained petitioner as the individual requested
The file and the documents provided by the Government show that
his original name was Mohammad Ali, and that he was known as Sheik Kadir
Sahib Tajudeen. He so
appears in several public documents relating to proceedings instituted
by the petitioner or by his representatives from the time of his arrival
in Costa Rica in 1978 until 1983. At
no time throughout the proceedings in the Costa Rican courts or before
this Commission has the petitioner disputed those documents'
authenticity. Back in 1983,
when the petitioner was about 41 years of age, he was adopted by notary
Nestor Baltodano Guillen, a Costa Rican national, and then changed his
name, which he did again years later.
All those documents consistently state that in his Singapore
passport # 0658890, presented either by the petitioner himself or by his
representatives, his name appears as Mohammad Ali, "known also as
Sheik Kadir Sahib Tajudeen" to wit:
It also appears that the petitioner changed his own name first to
Tajudeen Baltodano Guillen, which is what he calls himself in the note
presented to the I.C.T. on February 23, 1983, requesting that his
children's names be changed by virtue of the adoption ruling.
It also appears that four years later, in 1987, the petitioner's
representatives again changed his name (Note No. 771532 from the
petitioner's attorney to the National Immigration Council, dated
November 19, 1987), to Sheik Kadir Sahib Tajudeen, "also known as
Mohammad Ali"; that is, by reversing the name he had upon entering
Costa Rica, it became his alias, and the alias became his name.
From that time on he has called himself Sheik Kadir Sahib
Tajudeen, and mention of his original name has ceased. (See petition of
habeas corpus to the Supreme Court of Justice, dated November 8, 1988)
That in the Interpol Report added as annex 3 of 21.11.85,
Interpol France indicates that the individual sentenced in France has
"several aliases: Mohamed
Ali Qadir, Dino or Bunny Baltodano Tajunddin, Kadir Tajuddin, Zulfinar
Mohamed, Jamal Ali, Taj Ud Din, Zhiekh Ali, and that this is a Pakistani
type person 40 years of age, 1.66 meters tall, an astute businessman
accustomed to the finer things in life."
It also appears from the report by the criminal expert of
November 12, 1990, presented to this Commission by the petitioner's
attorney with a note dated December 8, 1990, that the finger prints
presented by the Swiss Police through Interpol as belonging to Mohammad
Ali match those taken from the petitioner in Costa Rica in that month of
November 1990 in the presence of his attorney.
That the physical descriptions and the corresponding photographs
also match. That the
observations regarding the transcription procedure do not alter the
basic conclusion of the expert to the effect that both identifications
refer to the same person.
The Commission concludes in the light of all the documents
analyzed that the petitioner entered Costa Rica with a passport in the
name of Mohamed Ali; that in Costa Rica he changed his name several
times; and that the Costa Rican courts and authorities have respected
the rights recognized by the American Convention with regard to his
legal personality, which includes personal identity and his right to a
Concerning the principle of due process.
The Commission considers that the principle of due process has
not been violated, since the petitioner has had ample opportunity in
Costa Rica, which he has availed himself of extensively, both for
defense and for various kinds of appeals with regard to his liberty, his
right to a name, his right to equal treatment, and his legal guarantees.
The extradition has been ordered in keeping with the terms of
Extradition Law No. 5991 of 1976, which governs the case because there
is no special treaty with France in this regard, in accordance with the
judgment of the Second Criminal Court, upheld by the corresponding
The fact that his extradition is based on a judgment handed down
in default in a country like France that is not a member of the
Organization of American States does not in itself involve a violation
of the guarantees of due process.
That such proceeding in the French court was analyzed by the
Costa Rican judge, and he found it complied with the legal requirements
of Costa Rica applicable to the case.
That, as indicated by the official document of the Government of
France dated 19/6/89, through a note from its Ambassador in Costa Rica
to that country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of France
agrees and promises to conduct a new trial in the event Mr. Mohammad
Ali, known as Sheik Kadir Sahib Tajudeen, challenges the previous one,
and promises to judge and sentence him only for the events that gave
rise to the extradition request.
The Commission has also considered the judgment of the Supreme
Court of Justice of Costa Rica handed down on December 13, 1989, whereby
the petition for habeas corpus filed by the petitioner was rejected,
which confirms the legality of the petitioner's detention and describes
the appeals he has before the French system of justice and eventually
before the European system for defense of human rights if he believes
his fundamental rights have been violated by the proceedings conducted
in the French courts.
In this regard the Commission considers that the fact that the
Constitution of Costa Rica, in keeping with Article 22.5 of the American
Convention, provides a special right for nationals whereby they may not
be expelled from their country, which right it does not guarantee to
foreigners if they are expelled or extradited in accordance with the
legal procedure and the guarantees of due process, does not constitute
discrimination against the right to equal treatment before the law.
That the petitioner, whose identity the Commission addressed
itself to earlier, has had innumerable effective remedies in order to
assert his rights in a Costa Rican court; he has made use of them, and
it does not appear from the accompanying documentation that his
guarantees have been impaired in such remedies; instead, the Costa Rican
system has answered his petitions in accordance with the law and with
ample opportunity for defense and review.
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
To declare this petition admissible in accordance with the
provisions of Article 47, inasmuch as it fulfills the formal
requirements required by the American Convention on Human Rights.
That the actions and decisions of the Costa Rican judicial and
administrative authorities with regard to the petitioner, Mr. Mohammed
Ali, who uses various names, including Sheik Kadir Sahib Tajudeen, as a
result of the request for extradition by the Government of France, do
not constitute a violation of the rights recognized in the American
Convention on Human Rights.
Let the Government of Costa Rica and the petitioner be informed
of this decision, and let it be published in the 1991 Annual Report of