December 2, 2020

TCI ex-premier released, wants to ho home, governor’s reply & Sun Editor demands apology from AG

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2-11-2013-12-07-06-PM-9838005The following are stories taken from the Sun Turks & Caicos on ex- Turks and Caicos Islands premier, Michael Misick, who fled the islands when a corruption investigation was ongoing resulting in the islands being administered by the UK’s FCO through the TCI governor. Misick went to Brazil, was arrested and placed in a maximum security jail after a warrant had been issued by the TCI AG for his arrest.


Former Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands Michael Misick has been released from Brazilian jail.

Well-placed sources told the SUN that Misick, 47, was released late Thursday night after an initial extradition hearing in Brazilian courts.

According to family members, Misick, who was arrested on December 7th 2012, is in good spirits and is eagerly looking forward to returning home.

He slept at his home for the first time in over six weeks and was surrounded by close friends on his release from jail, sources said. Throughout the day Friday, Misick was having several high level meetings with his lawyers from Brazil.

It is understood that some of his family members will be meeting him in Brazil over the next few days.

Last weekend, several persons from Turks and Caicos Islands, including lawyers, pastors, politicians and some of Misick’s family and friends, went to Brazil to visit him for his 47th birthday.
News of Misick’s release from jail first broke on Friday morning and it went viral of social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and BBM. However, there was some subsequent apprehension when at 9:10 a.m., Attorney General Huw Shepheard issued a statement through Governor’s spokesman Neil Smith which stated: “The report on Radio Turks and Caicos breakfast news today stating that former Premier Michael Misick had been released from prison in Brazil is incorrect,” said Huw Shepheard, Attorney General, Turks and Caicos Islands.

“The position remains that he was provisionally arrested under the authority of the Supreme Court in Brazil on the basis of a lawful request and the formal request for his extradition has been made through the proper channels. This matter remains in the hands of the Brazilian authorities.”

At 1:27 pm., Smith issued another statement which said: “Michael Misick, the former Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands (a British Overseas Territory) was released from prison in Rio de Janeiro on 8 February. We understand that the Brazilian Supreme Court has granted him bail. This does not mean that the legal process is exhausted.

He was arrested on 7 December by Brazilian Federal Police acting on a provisional arrest warrant. Arrest was sought by the TCI Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (set up to investigate issues arising from Sir Robin Auld’s 2008-09 Commission of Inquiry). TCI prosecutors submitted formal extradition papers on 28 January 2013 within the 60 day time limit.”

In response to the new development, Premier for the Turks and Caicos Islands Hon. Dr. Rufus Ewing said that his predecessor should not have been in jail to begin with. He tagged Misick’s release as justice being served and expressed the hope that if and when Misick is returned to the TCI, the judicial process would take its natural course.

Ewing said: “My view on the matter is, he should not have been in prison in the first place – that’s one. His release was long overdue, and I guess justice is served in that regard. And I am sure it is against the wishes of the British and those persons who want to see him jailed. I really look forward to seeing him home a free man, and I look forward to seeing him receive justice for whatever trial he faces,” Ewing said.

Asked as to what his understanding of the released was, Ewing posited: “I would not dare to misspeak like the Governor and the others; I just know that he has been released. I don’t know the conditions and the terms on which he was released; all I know that he is a free man out of prison. I won’t venture to give false information as the Governor’s Office did.”

Also weighing in on the news, Opposition Leader Hon. Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson said that the decisions of the Brazilian authorities must be respected regardless of how one feels about Misick’s exit from jail. She also expressed the hope that whatever that is to be panned out in the matter must take due process.

“The Brazilian Court has made their decision and we have to respect that. I trust that we can move on with this thing as quickly as possible and we can get past this chapter in our country’s history. I trust that he (Misick) is well in mind and body, and I trust that he remains in good care. It is up to him (to return to the TCI for trial) because he does have asylum application that is pending.

“I can’t imagine that a country would go around that until that is disposed of. So, I think the ball would more or less be in his court on whether he refuses to be part of an extradition hearing and waves his right, ” she said.

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The formal request for Michael Misick’s extradition to the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) was lodged with the Brazilian government today, Tuesday January 29th, Attorney General Huw Shepheard said.

“The Turks and Caicos Islands’ Chief Magistrate (Clifton Warner) and the acting Attorney General (Rhondalee Brathwaite-Knowles) formally certified the papers last week and they were taken to Brazil on Sunday,” Shepheard said in a release issued by Governor’s spokesman Neil Smith.

“Some time was needed to assemble the documentation and to have the request translated into Portuguese, however the request has been made well within the time limit imposed by the Extradition treaty, in accordance with the intention of the TCI Government and the Special Investigation Prosecution Team (SIPT) to secure Michael Misick’s return to the TCI by due process of law.”

Misick has criticised Special Prosecutor Helen Garlick for refusing to allow him to return home from a Brazilian jail on a charter plane that will be paid for by his family.

In a letter written from prison, Misick, who was arrested in Rio de Janeiro on December 7th, 2012, told Garlick: “I am disappointed by your response to my verbal request and written request to voluntarily return home to answer question or any future charges that you may levy against me. I am determined to clear my name in relation to the allegations made by you towards me.

In response to my request to voluntarily return home directly on a charter flight, paid for by my family, your excuse is that I may change my mind between the prison and the airport and refuse to board the plane or (during) my stop-over in the British Virgin Islands I may decide to stay there. This is the lamest excuse I have ever heard a law enforcement professional use to someone who is on the Interpol Red Alert and wanted in a jurisdiction for questioning and wants to voluntarily surrender.”
Misick added: “As a former Premier and a leader in my country, I have not made that decision lightly. Therefore I could (not) and never will change my mind en route to Turks and Caicos Islands. I therefore pledge to you and most importantly to the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands (that) if you withdraw the prison order and lift the Red Alert so that I can travel, my family will provide a plane for my return home, Officers from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police force and/or Interpol can also accompany me on that direct flight to the Turks and Caicos Islands.

My word is my honor and at this stage all I have left is my word. I (have) already spent six (6) weeks in prison in Brazil with no effort on your part, (no effort) on Turks and Caicos Government part, and (no effort) on the British part to have my safe return. If you are serious about even the appearance of Justice and not revenge and prosecution I ask that you in good faith re-consider your decision to reject my voluntary return. I again state that there is no need for a long and expensive process of extradition as I am willing to return voluntarily within 24 to 48 hrs of your agreement to have me return voluntarily. The power is in your hands to do what is right and decent. My trust as always is in my God.”

However, Attorney General Huw Shepheard says the fact that former Turks and Caicos Islands premier Michael Misick is being held in prison until the extradition process is completed is “a matter for the Brazilian authorities”.

And, he says, Misick will also have the opportunity to influence the time the process takes, by deciding whether to contest the extradition and/or deciding whether to pursue his political asylum appeal, or not.

Shepheard was responding to an open letter issued to the media by Misick stating his willingness to return to the TCI to face questions relating to ongoing criminal investigations.

The Attorney General said Misick is the subject of an extradition request made lawfully and properly, in accordance with the relevant Treaty in place between the UK and Brazil, as extended to the Turks and Caicos Islands.

He added: “As such, he is currently being held in accordance with the terms of this Treaty, under a provisional warrant of arrest. Supporting documentation will be provided by the TCI authorities in January 2013, within the required 60 days from arrest. Then the Brazilian Courts and authorities will process the case and make their decision. This legal process in Brazil must now be followed. That Mr Misick is being held in prison until the process is completed is a matter for the Brazilian authorities. Mr Misick will also have the opportunity to influence the time the process takes, by deciding whether to contest the extradition and/or deciding whether to pursue his political asylum appeal, or not.”

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By Vivian Tyson, Senior SUN Editor

• Mon, Feb 11, 2013

Governor Ric Todd has weighed in on the Michael Misick extradition debacle, hinting that the former premier was trying to mislead the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands as to the true nature of the process.

In an interview with The SUN, Governor Todd said that Misick was saying one thing through his press releases, while doing something else on the ground in Brazil. He said that the former premier, who was forced from office in 2009, declared in his releases that he wanted to return to the TCI to face the music, but the British Government, in collusion with the Brazilian authorities were keeping him in jail. He also rejected comments by Misick that his detention was somewhat illicit.

“The application for Mr. Misick’s extradition was made properly and legally and in accordance with the UK/Brazil Extradition Treaty extended to TCI. Now, how long Mr. Misick is held in Brazil, and where, is a matter for the Brazilian authorities – they are the ones who chose the pace of the extradition process. Now, I have no part to intervene in the TCI Judicial process, and I certainly I have no part to intervene in the Brazilian judicial process,” the governor said.

According to him, there has been a spirited attempt by the former premier to still seek political asylum in Brazil, which was making his return to the TCI difficult. But he said that once he loosened his grip on those ambitions, the process of having him returned here should be seamless.

“As the Attorney General has pointed out, if Mr. Misick wishes to accelerate his return home, then he should stop resisting extradition – which he is currently doing – and second he should deflect on his application for political asylum, which is being separately considered,” the governor advised.

“So, you have someone who says he wants to return to TCI. However, as the AG has pointed out, some of the facts on the ground in Brazil might lead you to wonder what the situation really is. But the key point is, this is in the hands of the Brazilian authorities,” Governor Todd pointed out.

In his last letter from a Brazilian jail, Misick said that his detention was not as a result his not wanting to be released and returned to the Turks and Islands, but was a case of the Attorney General was predicated on documents filed by the Attorney General and British Government for him to remain in jail.

He noted in part: “I am a political prisoner having been arrested illegally at the request of the Attorney General Huw Shepheard and the British Government and documents they filed in the Brazilian Supreme Court requesting my detention and extradition to the Turks and Caicos Islands. For that reason, the only way that I can be released from prison is if the AG and the British Government withdraw the prison order and agree to my voluntary return.

“My stay in jail is not up to the Brazilian authorities as the AG asserted but it is up to the TCI Attorney General Huw Shepheard, Special Prosecutor Helen Garlick and the British Government. I could be home to face whatever charges they choose to place on me in 24 to 48 hours of the AG and the British Government agreeing to my voluntary return.

“There is recent president for this in England where at least one high profile prisoner did agree to voluntarily return there to face charges after being away for many years. My situation is no different from theirs. It is highly unusual for a person that is a country’s most wanted to want to voluntarily return and the authorities of that country refusing to accept him or to expedite his return.”

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By Hayden Boyce
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, Sun Turks & Caicos

Public condemnation must surely be in order for Attorney General Huw Shepheard, who by any assessment, propagated a blatant lie to Turks and Caicos Islands and the world by last Friday categorically denying that former Premier Michael Misick had not been released from Brazilian prison.

While Mr. Shepheard subsequently corrected his erroneous statement, the fact that he did so without even so much as offering a public apology for his embarrassing blunder, is in my view, totally unprofessional, highly disrespectful and disturbingly dangerous. Without doubt, it demonstrates utter contempt for public sensibilities and arrogance of intolerable proportions.

The post of Attorney General carries awesome responsibilities and tremendous power. Above all else, it also comes with an inherent and solemn obligation to be truthful and to execute the duties of that office fairly and without fear or favour.

However, in what appeared to have been unbridled anxiety, a seemingly overzealous rush to judgment and apparent disappointment with the news that Mr. Misick was indeed released from jail, Mr. Shepheard told a silly and reckless untruth which essentially discredited the state-owned Radio Turks and Caicos and veteran broadcaster Lyn Thomas, who first broke the story. Moreover, his lie amounted to conduct which fell exceedingly short of what is well expected from his high office.

We need not remind Mr. Shepheard that justice must balance the scales of truth and fairness. Indeed, the public should expect no less from its Attorney General than the separation of fair facts from flimsy fiction.

This is precisely why Mr. Shepheard must not delude himself into thinking that it is kosher for him to disseminate a lie and not be censured by the media and/or the public.

After all, this is the same Attorney General, who, in a very recent press release, was pontificating about the public and the media adhering to “the highest principles of decency and proper restraint in commenting on judicial and public matters”.

Because of the sensitive and controversial nature of the Michael Misick extradition issue and the keen interest that this country, the region and indeed the world has in the matter, it was incumbent on the Attorney General to pause for thought, verify his facts and issue a sensible and correct press release before breathlessly shooting first and aiming later.

Difficult as it may be for Mr. Shepheard to concede, he must now be told that the predominantly intemperate tone and content of some of his press releases and certain of his correspondence in relation to this Michael Misick extradition process, have served to add negative fuel and toxic energy to an issue that is already dogged by reports, allegations and accusations of lies, deceit, unfairness and political hatchet work by some persons in officialdom.

In the circumstances, and certainly when one looks at the bigger picture, nothing is therefore at all trivial or casual about the Attorney General’s most recent obnoxious blunder. In all matters, the people of any country must be able to absolutely trust their Attorney General, who is government’s chief legal advisor.

Self-inflicted wounds on any Attorney General’s credibility and veracity, has to be a matter of serious national concern.

Then, there is the even greater danger, when holding high office, to be surrounded with sycophants who lack the courage to impart advice that will avert debilitating consequences, not the least of which is the erosion of public confidence.

If he would listen to them, one of those close to the Attorney General should whisper in his ear that he should curtail his intemperate and irascible fervour, endeavour to be truthful, transparent and factual at all times, humble himself and be open to constructive criticism.

And if he doesn’t threaten them with contempt of court, as is his custom, they should also remind him of that famous Canadian case, R vs. Stinchombe, which states: “The purpose of a criminal prosecution is not to obtain a conviction…Counsel have a duty to see that all available proof of the facts is presented. It should be done firmly and pressed to its legitimate strength, but it must be done fairly. The role of the prosecution excludes any notion of winning or losing. His function is a matter of public duty than which in civil life there can be none charged with greater responsibility. It is to be efficiently performed with an ingrained sense of the dignity, the seriousness and the justness of judicial proceedings.”

Mr. Shepheard’s goof on the release of Michael Misick from jail is but one of many matters that have raised serious questions in the public’s mind with respect to Attorney General and how he approaches issues. They need not be rehearsed here.

The Attorney General is on record as saying that: “Our Constitution and the other laws…seek to balance the exercise of the right to free speech against the harm that unfettered free speech can do to individuals and society at large.”

Heed your own advice, Mr. Huw Shepheard!

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