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Jun 8, 2018

Mark Seawell Challenges Government over Extradition Detention

Mark Seawell

Fourteen months ago, Mark Seawell was released from a decade of incarceration, six and a half years of which was under notice of extradition to the United States. Along with brothers Gary and Duane, he had been accused of running a drug-smuggling business through Mexico to the state of Ohio. But his attorneys convinced Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin that his committal warrant was defective and of no effect. Now, Mark Seawell is the one suing the government of Belize, alleging malicious prosecution and false imprisonment. But the authorities say he shouldn’t get a dime. The case returns to court later this month, and this afternoon, we sat down with Seawell’s attorney, Anthony Sylvestre, to discuss the case. News Five’s Aaron Humes reports.

 

Isani Cayetano

“What’s the feeling of freedom at the moment Mark?”

 

Mark Seawell, Freed [File: April 6th, 2017]

“I grateful mein, grateful.  Grateful to be free.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“It’s been ten years of fighting for freedom, talk to us about the experience of being held for this long and not being able to see your family and your loved ones.”

 

Mark Seawell

“A just grateful fu be free mein.”

 

Aaron Humes Reporting

This week marks fourteen months since his final walk down the Supreme Court steps. But Mark Seawell must climb them one more time, later this month, to say to the Government of Belize: pay me what I am owed for unconstitutionally holding me in prison without proper evidence.

 

Anthony Sylvestre

Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney for Mark Seawell

“The honorable Chief Justice declared that Mark Seawell’s detention was unlawful and in contravention of the Constitution of Belize, section five, and it was also in contravention of the Extradition Act. And so, we basically have brought this claim and we are seeking compensation for Mr. Seawell’s unlawful detention for a period that calculates to roughly two thousand, three hundred and seventy-six days.  He would have been incarcerated from 2011 to 2017.”

 

That’s a total of six and a half years. But the Government, according to Sylvestre, says Seawell shouldn’t get a penny.

 

Anthony Sylvestre

“The Government, they have reached the point where they did file a defense, and they have actually made an application for the court to give summary judgment in their favour, for the matter to be struck out. I can’t speak for the government, but essentially, they are claiming that they are immunized from a suit of this nature because a court order was made and he was being effectively held pursuant to a court order. That may seem to be an attractive argument, and in that respect, the government’s point of view may be that the claim [is] unreasonable. But on the other hand, you have Mr. Seawell’s point of view, that a court of law has declared his detention for a period of time to be unlawful, and what naturally flows from such a situation is that he ought to be compensated. In fact, that is what the Constitution provides; if you are detained unlawfully, you are entitled to compensation.”

 

Seawell himself has kept a fairly low profile. But according to Sylvestre, he is convinced of his argument, despite the risk—however fairly low—of having extradition proceedings re-opened against him.

 

Anthony Sylvestre

“The only legal risk in terms of bringing the claim is that the claim, you win or lose, and there are consequences for that. But I suppose you are asking of in terms of the claim having any bearing on what extradition proceedings being re-instituted against him – well, we don’t know. Remember the whole nature of extradition proceedings; it’s a request that’s made by a foreign state. So I don’t know, none of us know, what may be the motivating factors that may be operating on the mind of the United States when a request is made. I can’t speak to that; I don’t know if you can speak to that; or anybody can speak to that. But suffice to say this: having been discharged from the habeas corpus application, that cannot or does not bring an end to the possibility of the requesting state, if they so desire, bringing or re-instituting extradition proceedings. But here’s the thing: if he filed the claim or not, that legal possibility still existed for them, so in my view it’s neither here nor there; it ought not to be a consideration which weighs on a litigant, especially someone who has been unlawfully detained, whether they seek compensation or not.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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2 Responses for “Mark Seawell Challenges Government over Extradition Detention”

  1. Fungus says:

    Belize people just so dumb and uneducated they go and do rass in other countries too not only here..shows how our education system is no better than our justice system ,, time to purge belize..

  2. Fungus says:

    Time to purge belize.

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