Ecuador Seeks Return of Florida Death Row Inmate

Ecuador is demanding the return of one of their citizens from Florida’s death row because they maintain he was taken from Ecuador illegally. The inmate, Nelson Serrano Saenz, is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Ecuador. Ecuador says he should have never been taken from their country by Florida officials, calling the arrest a “kidnapping” and accusing the U.S. government of physical maltreatment of Serrano as well.  Ecuador does not have the death penalty and will not extradite fugitives who face the punishment in other countries. ''The issue is not his guilt or innocence,'' said Deputy Ecuadorean Interior Minister Franco Sanchez. ''This is called a kidnapping, not an arrest.''  U.S. authorities maintain that they did nothing improper and that Serrano’s dual citizenship status allowed them to bring him back. The Organization of American States, to which both countries belong, has since recommended the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica, after first finding that Ecuador had illegally detained and deported Serrano.  

Ecuador has not received an official response from the U.S. State Department to their letter and announced they plan to present the letter to the Florida Supreme Court, where Serrano's appeal will likely be heard later this year. The Ecuadorean government also has hired a Miami-based immigration attorney to replace Serrano's court-appointed lawyer.

(Associated Press, “Ecuador Seeks Return of Florida Death Row Inmate,” New York Times, April 6, 2009).  See International and Foreign Nationals