Attorneys claim human rights breaches in arrest of Jamaican-Panamanian in Colombia
Legal teams in three countries along with Jamaica government authorities, have initiated a range of efforts aimed at getting the release of 28-year-old Jamaican-Panamanian, Mayer Mizrachi Matalon, detained in Colombia since December 29, on an International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO-INTERPOL) arrest warrant and 'red notice'.
Mizrachi Matalon is the nephew of Jamaican businessman Joseph Mayer Matalon.
The 28-year-old, who was travelling from the United States to Cartagena on personal business, was detained following a request by Panamanian authorities, who are probing the technology entrepreneur for alleged irregularities associated with a 2014 government contract valued at US$194,000 to supply 100 user licences for a version of his Criptext company's software for secure messaging and email communications.
ILLEGAL ARREST WARRANT
However, his legal teams based in Jamaica, Colombia and Panama, are insisting that Mizrachi Matalon's constitutional and human rights are being breached by an "illegal arrest warrant" and the INTERPOL red notice - issued "to seek the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action".
According to his lead Jamaican lawyers, Lord Anthony Gifford and Caroline Hay, a red notice can only be issued after a person has been charged and, to date, their client has not been charged with anything in Panama or elsewhere.
Gifford said he was confident that, Mizrachi Matalon, who is yet to make a court appearance in Colombia, will be freed, once he does.
"He has not been charged with any offence in Panama or elsewhere. He had conducted a genuine business transaction of relatively small value (US$194,000) with the Panamanian authorities, and his family members are concerned that he has spent more than two weeks as a prisoner.
"His lawyers are taking legal steps to try to bring this illegal situation to an end," Gifford argued.
The legal team says it has brought the matter to the attention of Jamaica's foreign affairs and foreign trade ministry, and has petitioned the ministry to investigate all aspects of the matter and take such steps as it might deem appropriate in protection of the human rights of Mizrachi Matalon, given his Jamaican citizenship.
"There has to be some protocol with INTERPOL that you follow to satisfy the issuance of a red notice because of all the implications on the individual," Hay said, arguing that red notices are issued in cases more severe than the one under which her client is being investigated.
Jamaica's foreign affairs and foreign trade ministry, told The Gleaner last night that the Government was aware of the case, but refused to give further details.
Meanwhile, Hay added: "We made it very clear to the ministry that we understand that as citizens, we are not entitled to a lot of the information that will be dealt with diplomatically between the states, but we want to request that they look down this line and, if needs be, whatever is available to them, they use it."
Lawyers in Panama have submitted a formal petition to the president, Juan Carlos Varela, to use his powers to revoke the red notice and discontinue any request for extradition.
The Gleaner understands that Mizrachi Matalon is being held at a remand centre in Colombia and has been visited by various relatives.
Regarding the Panama contract probe, Hay said the young entrepreneur had been cooperating with the investigation since its inception, and was never a fugitive that would give rise to an international police arrest warrant.
"He left Panama between October/November. He asked them if they (the Panamanian investigators) needed him in the country because he was preparing to go back home to the (United) States and they said 'no, they did not need him'."
According to Hay: "Mayer has for the last several years resided in New York City where he is the founder and CEO of Criptext LLC (www.criptext.com). The company develops and markets secure email and messaging applications that have been the subject of extensive coverage and plaudits in a number of respected technology-industry journals, as well as in Forbes and Time magazines. Criptext was also recognised in 2014 by the Inter-American Development Bank as one of the 16 most innovative start-ups in Latin America and the Caribbean."