May 16, 2021

Trinidad court again postpones Warner extradition hearing

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jack_warner18From Caribbean News Now

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — The Trinidad and Tobago magistrates court has postponed until February 19 the hearing in relation to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner’s extradition to the United States to face multiple racketeering, corruption and money laundering charges.

US prosecutors allege, amongst other things, that South Africa funneled $10 million in 2008 to Warner and two other FIFA executives in exchange for their support in its successful bid to host the 2010 World Cup.

Warner, 72, appeared briefly in court on Wednesday, but no argument or evidence was brought, as both government and defence attorneys asked the magistrate for an adjournment to allow time for the High Court to rule on a motion filed by Warner’s lawyers challenging the legal basis of the extradition request.

The court also postponed the matter in September after Warner’s attorneys requested more time so they could travel to the US and discuss extradition terms. According to confidential sources, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) may be more receptive to such a discussion in the light of unrelated claims made by Warner.

An earlier invitation to open a dialogue with the DOJ in the immediate aftermath of his indictment in New York on May 27, 2015, and his subsequent arrest in Trinidad was said to have been rebuffed by Warner.

Since then, claims by Warner in relation to an ultimately unsuccessful extradition attempt by US authorities of two local businessmen accused of bribery and corruption in relation to the Piarco airport expansion project have apparently triggered increased interest on the part of the DOJ in talking to him.

Specifically, Warner has alleged that he witnessed former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar accepting TT$8.3 million (US$1.3 million) from local businessmen Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson in exchange for legislative protection against extradition.

Currently at issue in the extradition case is a decision as to whether or not the United States will have to restart extradition proceedings against Warner, following the belated signing of the requisite authority to proceed (ATP) by newly appointed attorney general Faris Al-Rawi five days after the September 16 deadline, which Warner’s attorneys have argued was fatal to the current proceedings, meaning that Warner would have to be re-arrested and the entire process restarted.

Lead attorney for the government, James Lewis QC, had argued that the point was moot since the ATP had now been signed.

Some Trinidad legal experts have warned that Warner’s extradition could take three to five years to resolve.

Warner was arrested in May and lost a re-election bid as a member of parliament during general elections on September 7.

IMAGE: Corruption accused Jack Warner

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