Jack Warner’s extradition case still on hold

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Jack Warner – File photo by Angelo Marcelle

EXTRADITION proceedings against former FIFA vice president Austin Jack Warner remain on hold and are yet to begin, some eight years after he was indicted in the United States on 29 charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering while he was vice president of football’s world governing body.

Now, six months after then-chief magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle referred a new challenge to his extradition to the High Court, his attorneys are asking for a signed order from the magistrates’ court.

In March 2023, Warner’s team of attorneys raised a “speciality argument” under section 14(4) of the Constitution, complaining there were inconsistencies relating to the charges he faces in the US.

In June 2023, Earle-Caddle referred the seven questions Warner raised to the High Court, as she ruled they were “legally grounded and had merit.”

She then adjourned the extradition proceedings in the magistrates’ court to January 22, 2024, pending the decision of the High Court.

Warner’s argument relates to the arrangement between the US and Trinidad and Tobago for extradition and the speciality principle which, by law, provides that a person who is extradited can be prosecuted or sentenced in the requesting state only in relation to the offences for which extradition was granted, and not for any other crime allegedly committed before the extradition took place.

In January, Earle-Caddle was appointed an acting judge, so the matter is now docketed to acting Chief Magistrate Adrian Darmanie.

At the hearing on Monday, Warner’s lead attorney, Fyard Hosein, SC, said his team recently wrote asking for an order from the magistrates’ court on the section 14 referral so that the claim can be filed in the High Court.

However, the magistrate and one of the attorneys for the requesting state, the US, told him the only order he could get from the magistrates’ court was a court extract.

Hosein was also reminded of Earle-Caddle’s new appointment.

Senior Counsel Ravi Rajcoomar, who appears with a team of attorneys for the US, said while he understood Warner’s position when the former chief magistrate referred the constitutional challenge to the High Court on June 26, 2023, the duty shifted to the “fugitive” to obtain the necessary documents for filing the fixed-date claim.

However, he said, “We got a letter at the eleventh hour asking for an order of the court.”

He said that should not stop the extradition process, asking for the matter ro proceed for the taking of evidence, “tomorrow morning if necessary.”

“… But we cannot remain in abeyance like this.”

Hosein said a request for the extract would be made within the week. Darmanie said he would try to expedite the request on his end and adjourned the matter to March 1 for mention.

Immediately after Earle-Caddle’s ruling, which included a scathing rebuke of the actions of the State, Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, called a news conference. He admitted he was “disturbed” by the chief magistrate’s findings of fact.

“And I say that with all due respect, because all that was before her was the affidavit of Mr Warner, and no evidence from any other parties and no cross-examination of anybody at all,” said Armour.

He said in his view, it appeared there was no justification for the finding of fact that the magistrate permitted herself to arrive at.

The proceedings against Warner were previously stalled when he challenged the process by which the extradition proceedings against him were carried out, and sought to quash the authority to proceed (ATP) signed in September 2015.

This was after the US asked for him to be extradited to face the fraud, corruption and money laundering charges.

A similar constitutional complaint relating to the speciality principle, which Warner raised earlier, was shot down by the Privy Council when it delivered its judgment on November 17, 2022. This paved the way for the extradition proceedings to resume before the chief magistrate.

However, they were again stalled when he raised his latest challenge, which was prompted by a freedom of information request. In her ruling, Earle-Caddle emphasised that the law was clear, as the extradition process involved the liberty of citizens.

“The end result of extradition is the deprivation of a person’s liberty and subjection to a foreign jurisdiction. It is of paramount importance that any process which supports taking away that freedom must adhere strictly to the legal requirements.”

Warner is also represented by attorneys Sasha Bridgemohansingh, Anil Maraj and Aadam Hosein.

Appearing alongside Rajcoomar for ASP Carlton Alleyne, for the US, are James Lewis, KC, Pamela Elder, SC, Netram Kowlessar and Ryan Rajcoomar.