US loses in Warner case again

For the second time in six months, the United States (US) has been refused permission to enter former government minister Jack Warner’s legal challenge of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s decision to sign off on an extradition request from its Department of Justice.

Delivering a 17-page written judgement at the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Appellate Judges Allan Mendonca and Peter Jamadar ruled that the US had failed to prove that its interest differed from the AG’s office, which represents all foreign states in extradition proceedings.

Mendonca, who penned the judgement, said: “One assumes that there would be full consultation between them prior to all court appearances in relation to all decisions proposed to be taken and submissions to be filed, as one would expect between a principal and agent in the usual course of such a relationship.”

Despite the ruling, Mendonca said the US was entitled to reapply if the circumstances change in the future.

“The dismissal of this application does not shut out the USA from making a fresh application if it can demonstrate, in light of the submissions of the parties before the court, that it can indeed make a useful contribution to the resolution of the matter or would be substantially prejudiced by not being able to do so,” he said.

The judgement was consistent with a ruling by High Court Judge James Aboud, who dismissed a similar application in June leading to the appeal.

Presenting submissions in the appeal last month, US attorney James Lewis, QC, claimed that his client did not feel its interests could be best articulated by the AG’s Office and it preferred to be an interested party as it stood to be directly affected by the outcome.

Warner, in his claim, is questioning the procedure adopted by the Office of the Attorney General in signing off on the US’s request for his extradition made in May last year, at the end of the US Department of Justice’s investigation into Fifa. He is facing fraud and money-laundering charges related to his two decades as a vice-president of world football’s governing body.

Earlier this year, Aboud granted Warner a stay of his ongoing extradition proceedings currently before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar, which will expire after Aboud decides on the legality and constitutionality of his extradition.

Warner’s attorneys are alleging that this country’s extradition treaty with the US contradicts the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act.

They are claiming that in passing the act, Parliament afforded citizens certain protections which are ignored by the international treaty. He is also complaining that Al-Rawi failed to give his attorneys a fair opportunity to make representations to him before he signed off on the Authority to Proceed, which was required to kick off the proceedings before Ayers-Caesar.

Shortly after taking over the case from his predecessor Garvin Nicholas in September last year, Al-Rawi extended the option to Warner. However, his attorneys allegedly refused as they said it was made a day before Al-Rawi was required to approve the extradition.

Warner is being represented by Fyard Hosein, SC, Nyree Alfonso, Rishi Dass and Anil Maraj, while the State is being represented by Douglas Mendes, SC, and Michael Quamina.

Aboud is expected to set a date for the case when it comes up for hearing on March 13.



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