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Feb 26, 1999

Rhett Fuller to be extradited

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Chief Magistrate Herbert Lord has ruled that there is sufficient evidence for Rhett Fuller to be extradited to the U.S.A. Fuller was taken into police custody in October following a request from the U.S. that he be turned over to face charges of first degree murder in connection with the 1990 killing of Florida resident Larry Miller during an armed robbery attempt. In a lengthy statement before announcing his decision this morning, Magistrate Lord cited extradition cases in both the Caribbean and elsewhere which dealt with aspects of the arguments presented by Fuller’s defense attorneys and Solicitor General Gian Ghandi over the course of the hearing which began in November. Lord said that he felt obliged to accept that the defendant is the same person being sought by the U.S. based on the photographs and other documents submitted both by the U.S. — which included a driver’s license reportedly found at the scene of the crime — statements by A.I.P. Inspector Flowers who took Fuller into custody and a prior deposition statement given by the defendant himself to Justice George Meerabux. Lord said in his opinion, despite arguments by the defense on the inadmissibility of certain evidence, in his opinion there is sufficient evidence at this stage to require that Fuller be extradited in compliance with a treaty between Belize and the United States. He said, however, that Fuller has 15 days to apply to the Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus. He then allowed the defendant a few moments with his attorneys before he was taken back to Hattieville Prison. News Five spoke with defense attorney Eamon Courtenay who says this is by no means the end of their fight.

Eamon Courtenay, Defense Attorney

“We are very disappointed by the decision of the Chief Magistrate. We have our client’s instructions to immediately file papers to take the matter to the Supreme Court. We respect the Magistrate’s decision but we believe that he is entirely wrong and therefore we are canvassing these arguments before the Supreme Court and eventually the Court of Appeal if necessary.”

Q: “Will you argue the exact same things or do you have something else?”

Eamon Courtenay

“No, actually before the Magistrate the jurisdiction is very narrow. The things that we can raise are very limited. There are a number of other issues, new issues which we will be raising up which are very compelling and which in our view strengthens the case further. I don’t want to go into it right now but I would think that it must be clear to people that if the United States has waited so long before attempting to prosecute someone that that would shut the conscience of any right thinking person. And so that type of matter will definitely be brought up before the Supreme Court.”

Courtenay says he has asked for a written copy of Magistrate Lord’s decision because in his words “we couldn’t follow it.”

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