Trinidad AG signs off on Jack Warner extradition; lawyer wants him released
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has signed the document required to begin the process of extraditing former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner to the United States to face corruption charges.
But Warner’s attorneys have challenged Al-Rawi’s missed deadline for signing the authority to proceed (ATP) document, and a magistrate will rule on that on Friday.
Warner, who is out on bail, yesterday reappeared in court where it was disclosed that Al-Rawi had signed the ATP.
The deadline had been last Wednesday, but state attorney Brent Hallpike wrote to Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar that same day, asking for more time for Al-Rawi to examine the documents and make a decision on the matter, as he had only been sworn-in as Attorney General the previous week.
When the case came up for hearing yesterday before Deputy Chief Magistrate Mark Wellington who stood in for Ayers-Caesar, Warner’s lead attorney Fyard Hosein SC said while it was a very complex case and he understood Al-Rawi’s need for more time, there was no authority to give an extension and the deadline had passed and his client should therefore be automatically released.
Asking the court for a discharge on the provisional warrant on which Warner was held, he said it might be required for future legal challenges to the extradition proceedings.
“It is important to us for you to make an order of discharge,” Hosein told the magistrate as he cited Section 12 (3) of the Extradition Act which states that a person arrested on a provisional warrant should be discharged if no authority to proceed has been received by the magistrate.
However, James Lewis QC who is lead counsel for the State in the extradition matter, dismissed Hosein’s arguments, saying that to discharge Warner under the provisional warrant would be strictly academic since the court now had jurisdiction over the extradition proceedings with the signing of the ATP.
He further argued that any challenge should have been made as soon as the deadline had expired.
Magistrate Wellington adjourned the matter until Friday to consider arguments from both sides.
“I am troubled by the difference of opinion between the parties on this point and I need time to consider all that is before me,” he said.
Warner, 72, is accused of 29 counts of racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, bribery during his time in football’s world governing body, FIFA.
It is alleged that he began to leverage his influence and exploit his official positions for personal gain from the early 1990s; accepted a US$10 million bribe from South African officials in return for voting to award them the 2010 World Cup; and bribed officials with envelopes each containing US$40,000 in cash.
He and 13 other current or former FIFA officials were indicted in May.