Mark Seawell Challenges Warrant for Extradition
Is incarcerated Ladyville resident Mark Seawell closer to being extradited to the United States or is he finally going home to his family in the days ahead? His fate as an inmate on remand at the Belize Central Prison hangs in the balance, pending a decision by the Supreme Court on April sixth. Seawell, who has been fighting extradition to the U.S., where he is wanted on a slew of charges related to drug trafficking, remains on pretrial detention in Hattieville. He has been in lockup ever since being nabbed by local law enforcement in 2007, on a request by the U.S. State Department for his arrest. Seawell is the last of a trio of siblings who ran afoul of the law on suspicion of their involvement in an international drug trafficking organization. His brother, Gary Seawell, was freed from prison on November fourth, following a protracted legal battle which ended with a Court of Appeal decision in his favor. Today, attorney Ben Cooper, who represented Gary Seawell, put forward a similar argument before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, the merits of which were upheld at the Court of Appeal several months earlier. That argument has to do with the validity of Seawell’s committal warrant.
Ben Cooper, Attorney for Mark Seawell
“The argument that we have put forward today is a new argument in Mark Seawell’s case that wasn’t raised before which now focuses on the validity of the committal warrant and whether it serves its purpose and whether the basic statutory requirements of the extradition act were fulfilled by the chief examining magistrate responsible for his committal hearing.”
“What are those? Are you able to say, sir?”
“Well, yes. The purpose of the warrant is to specify after the judge has accessed whether a prima facie case is made out, whether each and every offense alleged consists of a prima facie case on the evidence and the judge also has to determine whether due criminality is made out and having considered all of the evidence and all of those tests the judge needs to stipulate in the warrant each and every offense under the foreign law.”
“I’m still a bit unclear sir, what was it particularly in this instance that you and the legal team believe was defective in this…”
“I think it would probably be more appropriate of me to give more details coming further after the Chief Justice has ruled on our arguments because at the moment the arguments are being presented to the court and judgment is reserved until Thursday of next week and we really need to await the judge’s assessment and determination of our arguments at this stage.”