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Sep 20, 2005

Brown brothers go free as extradition case crumbles

Story PictureWe don’t know how they’ll be celebrating Independence Eve, but Andrew “Papa” Brown and his brother Floyd walked down the steps of the Belize City Magistrate’s Court as free men this morning after Chief Magistrate Herbert Lord dismissed the extradition action against them. In handing down his decision, Lord maintained that a prima facie case had not been made against Andrew Brown because the evidence presented was “hearsay upon hearsay upon hearsay.” The Chief Magistrate pointed out that no affidavit had been filed by any of the persons directly involved in the case, namely the man arrested with the drugs, Luis Manuel Reina, the two crew members of a ship in Port Everglades who are believed to be his accomplices, nor Belizean businessman Stephen Reneau who was arrested earlier this year in Miami in connection with that 1999 cocaine bust. As to the first affidavit submitted by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency’s Special Agent Sheree Gordon, Lord accepted that it was in accordance with the rules of the Belize-U.S.A. Extradition Treaty, but the document did not include any direct evidence, only second and third hand assertions. It is understood that while hearsay evidence is accepted in extradition proceedings, Lord found that in this case, “the specie is completely different.”

The relief on the faces of the defendants and their attorneys was obvious, as was the disappointment disguised as defiance displayed by Solicitor General Elson Kaseke, who seconds after the decision was on his feet informing the court that upon receipt of new evidence and fresh papers, he can re-file charges. Outside the courthouse, attorney Barrow expressed elation at the outcome of the long-running trial.

Dean Barrow, Lead Defence Attorney, Brown Brothers
“Well, of course I am overjoyed at the result, although I think it has been clear for some time now that that result was inevitable. I think once the Solicitor General lost the appeal against the rejection of the tape recordings as evidence, once he lost that appeal in the Supreme Court on Friday, that really was the end of the story.”

Janelle Chanona
“He has indicated, the Solicitor General, that he will re-file using new evidence. How do you anticipate that?”

Dean Barrow
“I don’t see the possibility of re-filing against Andrew Brown at all. He has had a trial, which has gone to conclusion, and therefore it appears to me that double jeopardy would attach to any attempt to bring back proceedings on these charges. Where Floyd Brown is concerned it’s a little different because he has not had a trial. In view of the decision in his brother’s case, the Solicitor General has quite properly decided to withdraw, but I cannot see that there can be any re-filing of charges against Andrew Brown.”

Defeated but still defiant, when he took his turn at the mike Solicitor General Elson Kaseke maintained that the case against Andrew Brown is not over. But the SolGen remained tight-lipped on how he would proceed.

Elson Kaseke, Solicitor General
“What I am saying is that in the end of each case, the prosecution has to close its case and make some submissions as to why the court should rule in its favour. I have basically done that. There was no need for me to take a half ended day regurgitating evidence which I have already put before the court and which the court was cognisant of, so the court has ruled. There are various options available to me; I can take it on appeal to the Supreme Court, that was the effect of the ruling of the Chief Justice. If the U.S. brings in fresh papers, I can commence the proceedings right here in the Magistrate’s Court again. So I am just saying, take your time, wait, events will show what is at the end of the rainbow, thank you.

Janelle Chanona
“Mr. Kaseke, Dean Barrow is saying double jeopardy rules will apply, against Andrew Brown re-filing.”

Elson Kaseke
“I will?no re-filing has been done yet. I am saying take your time. That is the problem which I have with you members of the press, you jump ahead of yourself and you seek to comment on things which have not yet occurred. Responsibly, wait and see what happens.”

In July of this year brothers Andrew and Floyd Brown were arrested at their homes in Belize at the request of the U.S. government acting jointly with Belizean authorities under the terms of their extradition treaty. The Browns had been indicted by a Florida grand jury for importation of cocaine and conspiracy for an incident that occurred in 1999 at a dock in Port Everglades. One man, Luis Manuel Reina, was arrested while in possession of two bags of cocaine. During investigations, Reina is said to have cooperated with the D.E.A., allowing the U.S. officials to tape record conversations with his contacts in Belize. Transcripts of those conversations were rejected by the Chief Magistrate because the prosecution could not provide adequate evidence that the voices on the tapes were those of the defendants.

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