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Trio loses extradition appeal

Trio loses extradition appeal

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Following a decision by OECS Court of Appeal earlier this week, lawyers for Dexter Chance, Gareth McDowall and Carlos Sutherland have given notice that they intend to appeal to the Privy Council.{{more}}

On Monday May 31, 2010, at a sitting of the OECS appeal court in Kingstown, a judgement was handed down by Justices of Appeal Ola Mae Edwards, Janice George-Creque and Davidson Baptiste in the case where an appeal had been made against an order by acting judge Monica Joseph refusing the application by the three men for Habeus Corpus.

Habeus Corpus seeks to determine whether the appellants were legally detained.

The appellants are wanted to stand trial in the British Virgin Islands on a charge of importing 61.21 kilograms of cocaine into that territory.

On March 26, 2009, the Governor General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sir Frederick Ballantyne, issued an “authority to proceed” to the Chief Magistrate pursuant to three extradition requests made by the Governor of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in respect of the appellants. The warrants were executed and a hearing was held.

After the committal court heard testimony of seven witnesses, the appellants were committed to await return to the BVI to stand trial. The critical evidence against the appellants was that of an alleged accomplice who is serving a prison sentence in the BVI.

The appelllants, through their lawyers Alberton Richelieu and Kay Bacchus-Browne then applied to the High Court for habeas corpus, which was refused by Justice Joseph who held that the men’s commital was valid.

According to the judgement read out by Justice of Appeal Baptise on Monday, the judges found that “there is no merit in the ground that the learned judge misdirected herself when she found that a prima facie case had been made out against the accused. It cannot be seriously advanced that there was no evidence to justify the conclusion of the learned judge or that her conclusion was plainly wrong. It is not therefore open to this court to contradict her conclusion or to depart from it,” the judgement said.

The appeal judges also dismissed two other grounds of appeal.

The appellants had also claimed that the judge failed to appreciate in law that in conducting its case, the prosecution employed the provisions of the London Scheme and effectuated their reliance on the Scheme. It was therefore unfair for the prosecution to have recanted and submitted that the London Scheme did not apply.

However, the appeal judges held that the London Scheme is not a treaty and does not have the force of law in St. Vincent. They explained it is a non-treaty informal arrangement among member states of the Commonwealth setting out a procedure for extradition between them.

The appeal justices also threw out the submission by the appeallants that the judge erred in law when she found that section 7(3) and (4) of the Fugitive Offenders Act had been satisfed even without the certificate from the Governor General and that the provisions of section 6 of the British (Overseas Territories ) Order 2002 of the BVI was sufficient to protect the restriction on the return of the appellants.

The respondents in the matter are the Superintendant of Prisons and the Attorney General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They were represented by Director of Public Prosecutions, Colin Williams.

All three accused are currently in police custody at the Biabou Police Station.

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