The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stiehl, District Judge:
Before the Court is Juan Ramon Matta-Ballesteros' (Matta)
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241
by a Person in Federal Custody.
This cause is before the Court in a posture somewhat different
from the majority of federal habeas actions which the Court is
regularly required to review. The petitioner is not challenging
the duration or nature of his confinement; rather, he challenges
the legality of his detention. Petitioner asserts that he was
illegally and unconstitutionally taken from his home in Honduras
and removed to the United States by federal agents. The relief
Matta seeks is to have this Court declare that the United States
is without jurisdiction over petitioner due to alleged violations
of his right to due process in the manner of his apprehension,
and order that Matta be returned to Honduras.
Matta is under indictment in the Northern District of Florida
for an alleged escape from the United States Prison Camp at Eglin
Air Force Base in 1971, and faces indictments on various
narcotics charges in the Central and Southern Districts of
California, and the District of Arizona. Matta originally sought
a temporary restraining order from this Court to prevent the
government from transferring him from the United States
Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, where he is currently detained,
to face prosecution in any other district. The Court, upon
consent of the government, entered its temporary restraining
order on April 25, 1988. The Court directed the parties to brief
certain issues prior to the preliminary injunction hearing on May
16, 1988. On May 4, 1988, again upon consent of the government,
and for good cause shown, the TRO was extended until May 16,
1988. The Court heard extensive oral argument on the application
for preliminary injunction, including arguments on the likelihood
of success on the merits of the underlying habeas corpus action.
The government agreed to a further extension of the TRO until the
Court's ruling on the application for preliminary injunction.
On May 25, 1988, the Court denied Matta's application for a
preliminary injunction. The Court ruled that petitioner had
failed to establish that he lacked an adequate remedy at law;
that he failed to show irreparable harm; and that the balance of
harms did not weigh in petitioner's favor. The Court made no
ruling as to the likelihood of success on the merits. The merits
of Matta's habeas petition are now before the Court.
On June 2, 1988, the Court directed the government to show
cause why the writ should not issue, and on June 20, 1988,
ordered an expanded record from the parties, including affidavits
from the petitioner and any occurrence witnesses. The parties
have complied with the Order, and the Court has before it the
petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the affidavits of Matta,
certain occurrence and other witnesses, and certain reports.
The following is a description of the events surrounding the
arrest which are uncontroverted:
Juan Ramon Matta-Ballesteros, a/k/a Juan Ramon Mata del Pozo,
a/k/a Juan Ramon Mata, (Matta) is a resident of Tegucigalpa,
Honduras. Very early on the morning of April 5, 1988, Matta,
accompanied by two security guards/drivers, went a short distance
from his home to the residence of his attorney, Carlos D.
Lorenzana. His guards remained outside while he went into the
house. Within minutes of arriving, Matta received a telephone
call from his
wife. Matta exited his attorney's house to return to his home.
Matta's security guards informed him that they had observed
members of the military, described by one as the Honduras Special
Troops known as "Cobra" watching the attorney's home while
standing at either end of the street. Matta, accompanied by his
security guards, drove the van back to his home.
Upon arriving at his home, Matta got out of the van and
identified himself to members of the Honduran military. The van
was surrounded by many military men with weapons. A beige Land
Cruiser Toyota pickup truck pulled up and two men arrested Matta.
Included among the group at Matta's house were some Americans in
civilian clothing. Matta was grabbed, a brief struggle ensued, a
black hood was placed over his head, and he was pushed onto the
floor in the back seat of the Land Cruiser. At some point during
the apprehension, Matta may have been shocked several times by a
Deputy United States Marshal, Juan J. Donato Morales, drove the
Land Cruiser to an air base, an hour to an hour and a half away.
Sometime thereafter, Matta was placed on an airplane. He was
subsequently flown to the United States, and then transferred to
the United States Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, in this
District, early on the morning of April 6, 1988. Approximately 24
hours elapsed from the time of his apprehension to the time of
his arrival at Marion Penitentiary.
Upon his arrival at Marion on April 6, 1988, Matta was given an
initial medical examination. The examination revealed, in part,
Clinical Evaluation Notes
18. Head, Face, Neck Linear abrasions at left and posterior
and Scalp basal aspect of the neck
34. G-U System Presence of depigment ed area with
some scaling at the left side of
proximal shaft of the penis
35. Upper Extremities Linear abrasions at the distal part of
both forearms mostly at the lateral
and posterior side. Palmar side of
both hands are smeared light red (per
pt's information it's from blood)
36. Feet Abrasion about 1 1/3 x 1/2 cm at
dorsum of left foot
39. Identifying Body Multiple erythematous spots of about
Marks, Scars, 3-5 mm at the back. Few of these spots
Tattoos have denuded skin compatible with
The expanded record reveals the following questions of fact
1. Petitioner asserts that a large group of United States
agents were present at Matta's home. The government asserts that
there were only four members of the United States Marshals
Service near Matta's residence.
2. Petitioner asserts that he was seized by American "agents"
in civilian clothing. The government asserts that the
apprehension was made by Honduran officers, and that no United