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Aug 9, 2011

Rhett Fuller loses extradition appeal; his fate now in hands of Minister Sedi Elrington

Rhett Fuller

It took more than a decade to settle; that’s the extradition request by the US Government of Belizean Rhett Fuller that started in the Belize courts in 1999. London’s Privy Council today turned down Fuller’s appeal, he still has one more avenue to explore but the judgment will have a significant bearing on future extradition requests. The appeal stemmed from a murder that dates back to March 1990 in Miami. Larry Miller was shot and killed in Dade County, Rhett Fuller was among two others who were named in the murder, but he was never charged. In the interim he returned to Belize, settled, got married and moved on with his life.  In August of 1998, the US Embassy requested and was granted his extradition in 1999.  He fought it all the way up to the Privy Council in April of this year.  Attorneys Eamon Courtenay, Queen’s Counsel Edward Fitzgerald and Ben Silverstone appeared in the Privy Council on behalf of Fuller.  Their arguments were based on the abuse of process and that it is unjust and oppressive to return Fuller to Florida on the grounds that a thirteen year delay had elapsed between the alleged crime and the extradition request even though his whereabouts in Belize were known. Thirdly, that there were repeated contacts with the US officials and a deliberate concealment by the US that they did not know of his presence in Belize.  Fourthly, his attorneys cited the twelve year delay between the start of extradition proceedings and the resolution in the courts of Belize.  Fuller argued that he had been offered a plea bargain by the US if he testified against one of the other accused; he refused but had expectations that he would not be prosecuted for the murder. He also had divulged “prejudicial information” that he would not have disclosed if he anticipated he would be prosecuted. The Privy Council found otherwise today in a twenty-nine page judgment. Attorney Eamon Courtenay told News Five that the extradition of Fuller is now in the hands of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilfred Sedi Elrington.

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Rhett Fuller

Eamon Courtenay

“The Privy Council earlier today handed down their decision in respect of the appeal by Rhett Fuller which we had argued back in early April.  As you know Edward Fitzgerald Queen’s Counsel along with myself and Ben Silverstone appeared in the Privy Council on behalf of Mr. Fuller.  The decision of the Privy Council is disappointing to us in that the law lords in England have said that even though we were entitled to raise the question of abuse of process by the United States of America on the facts of this case they did not think that the delay was enough to warrant the stopping of the extradition of Rhett Fuller.  So the effect of the decision is that the appeal is dismissed and that Rhett Fuller is now to be the subject of a decision by the Minister of Foreign Affairs as to whether or not he’s going to be extradited to the United States.”

Isani Cayetano

“You guys are going to be presenting a case, essentially, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to have him remain in Belize.  In the event that the minister says well we will proceed with his extradition what happens next, on the legal front?”

Eamon Courtenay

“Right.  What happens now is [that] the legal, evidentiary part is finished, that is to say the Privy Council has confirmed that there is enough evidence prima facie for him to go to trial.  That now means that the minister has a political decision to make.  Should he send this Belizean to the United States?  We are going to make representation to the minister as to convince him that he should not go.  If the minister decides that Rhett should still be sent to the United States Rhett would be entitled to challenge that decision in court and to say that the minister acted wrongly, he took into account things that he should not have taken into account or didn’t put sufficient weight on the evidence that Rhett put forward et cetera.  It’s important to underline that the process that we’re now embarking on is essentially a political process.  It is whether or not the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honorable Wilfred Elrington believes that Rhett should be sent to the United States and in that process the issues that arise is twenty-one years.  How long this thing has happened?  The question of delay, who’s responsible for the delay?  What has happened to Rhett and his family over all of this time?  What would be the effect of taking Rhett out of the country?  Can Rhett get a fair trial in the United States?  Where are the witnesses?  Who should he call?  So there are a lot of reasons that we think we can put forward to the minister to try to convince him that Rhett should not go.  The last time when we were doing the appeal before the Court of Appeal a lot of Belizeans had signed up and had offered by phone calls letters, emails et cetera, saying that Rhett should not go and I would hope that Belizeans would continue to voice their views and say that it’s really unfair after such a long time for Rhett to go.”

While Rhett Fuller’s appeal was not successful at the Privy Council, the judgment sets out a precedent for other extradition cases. The Privy Council affirmed that because of the separation of powers in the Belize Constitution future requests will be determined by the Supreme Court.

Isani Cayetano

“What does this particular judgment, does this set a standard or would this have any bearing on any current or forthcoming extradition hearings?”

Eamon Courtenay

“Well the answer is yes Isani, the judgment is divided into, broadly speaking, into two sections.  One is [that] there’s a very important issue of law that we were arguing for.  We won on that but we lost on the facts.  The point is this the Extradition Act in Belize is dated 1870 and we were saying that under that act it is for the courts to determine whether or not there is abuse of process because all the cases prior to this one said that it was for the minister to determine whether, as a matter of law, there is abuse of process.  And we say that because we have a written constitution with the separation of powers you can’t ask a minister to make a decision on a legal matter.  That is for the courts.  In this decision the Privy Council for the first time has confirmed that because of our written constitution separation of powers the minister cannot decide abuse of process.  It is for the Supreme Court so that the Bishops, Hebert and a lot of them in the past tried to raise this argument and it was rejected.  We were able this time to get it to the Privy Council and the Privy Council has said that is right, it means going forward.  Anybody who is the subject of a request now or a request in the future will be able to go to the Supreme Court and say I should not be extradited because to extradite me is an abuse of process of the court.  So it is a very important decision and it will have a dramatic effect on any pending or future extradition request from Belize.”

So now, it is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to determine whether or not, he will hand over a Belizean to US authorities.

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23 Responses for “Rhett Fuller loses extradition appeal; his fate now in hands of Minister Sedi Elrington”

  1. Storm says:

    All killers must face judgment and punishment. Belize must not be a sanctuary for murderers!

  2. G says:

    The is no statue of Limitation for a murder charge in the United States nor should they be one in the constitution of Belize.

  3. G says:

    There is no statue of Limitation for a murder charge in the United States nor should they be one in the constitution of Belize.

  4. Victoria says:

    I say no, there is too long a gap between him being in belize and the US, he should stay in Belize

  5. Old Fashion says:

    This is exactly what happen when you hang out with bad company! If you did not learn anything from this maybe you should try going to church on a daily basis and pray about it. You play with fire and you will get burn. Well good luck because the U.S. will always try to manipulate things the same way they bully other nations.

  6. Rod says:

    You know how this will turn out goodbye fuller this useless gov. Will turn you over for literally 30 pieces of silver as long as money is being offered this corrupt gov. Will turn you over so say goodbye to your family fuller.

  7. REYHON says:

    If Fuller (guilty or not of the crime accused) is handed over to the US authorities, the Belizean constitution is pupu …….

    US authorities are among the world’s most corrupt. They will lie, cheat and manipulate. They know not the meaning of “integrity.” Fuller’s second crime (if he commited the first one) would be to be a Black Belizean locked up in U.S. prisons. Dead man walking.

  8. tim says:

    send he !@$$ dah states and let him face a trial! If he’s innocent then he can come back to belize.. once a murderer always a murderer!!

  9. deedee says:

    If Rhett Fuller is directly involved or took part in the killing of Larry Miller he should grow some balls, face his punishment like a man & stop hiding behind the judicial system. If he had nothing to do with that man’s death, then he should continue to fight for his freedom & clear his name.

  10. bzn2dabone says:

    If he did the crime, he must do the time. If he knows that he did not commit the crime, then why run? Face the music. The wicked runneth when no one chaseth.

  11. tim says:

    send he !@$$ dah states and let him face a trial! If he’s innocent then he can come back to belize.. once a murderer always a murderer!!

  12. mylegacyb4mypeople says:

    If he is guilty he should pay the price, if he did not commit the crime and he had information on who did, he should have spoke up, extradition is only part of the journey they still have to prove him guilty many US attorneys would love to get a hold of a high profile case like this one. Remember, my Legacy B4 My People.

  13. Elgin Martinez says:

    Why havn’t the American woman that trafficked so many Belizean kids to the US been extradited to Belize to face charges?This is the bs that i hate about our systemWe’re quick to extradite Belizean Citizens to the US to face charges.What about the American Citizens that commits crimes in Belize and fled to the US?

  14. Elgin Martinez says:

    What’s up with this double standard?How many Belizean Citizens have been murdered and no one is convicted but yet our government put so much interest in this case.So is an American life worth more than a Belizean Citizen life?Why can’t thesame amount of time be put into solving the murder of innocent r victims in the Jewel.

  15. Elgin Martinez says:

    What’s up with this double standard?How many Belizean Citizens have been murdered and no one is convicted but yet our government put so much interest in this case.So is an American life worth more than a Belizean Citizen life?Why can’t thesame amount of time be put into solving the murder of innocent r victims in the Jewel.

  16. Belizean says:

    Rod, do you remember Barrow stood infront of the Nation and said, we cant extradite one of our own when he was Rhett lawyer? Wonder if Rhett gon remind ah yet, i would!

  17. cali says:

    fuller is guilty! he need to face judgment for his action they need to send is @$$ back. Bze is not a heaven for criminals and we should not condone our citizen to do dirty deeds oversea and come running hm for shelter. Mr. foreign affair minster i beg you please dont tarnish Belizeans images anymore and send fuller back where he belong. If he is innocent or guilty justice will prevail.

  18. Yoli says:

    If Rhett knows he is innocent, and knows he was not involved with the murder, he should go back and face trial. I think he should be sent back .

  19. Concern Citizen says:

    SEND HIM PACKING . If he did not get caught up in this Bs he wouldnt be in belize anyway ,he would have been living abroad.. Belize was not good enogh for him then why should it be NOW????????????? SEND HIS A$$ on the next BANANA BOAT OUT>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  20. DUTIED CITIZEN says:

    You all make good points my view is similar to some. If he is innocent go and prove it. It is easier to prove innocence in the US than in Belize for sure. About the American lady that ‘trafficked’ children, if we the people want her then we must apply pressure on GOB and the US Embassy (news paper, call in show, letters, US State Dept.). The demand for Rhett Fuller is based on pressure from Larry Miller’s family. Remember the strong do want they wish and the weak do what they must. USA builds B2 Stealth Bombers for US$ 2.1 Billions spelt with a B. They have 21 that is they spent about 88Billion Bze dollars on one Programme= super power. That amount of money could turn Belize into a developed country or if in a Bank could run Bz for 2-3 Generations. We, little Belize, will not and cannot tell America what to do. So don’t let us fool ourselves. In the great scheme of things (international system, globalization, geo-strategic value) Belize is a dispensable pawn.

  21. Islander says:

    Send his butt back to America n send shyne back too.

  22. Leo says:

    Fuller has taken another persons life and fled to what he believed to be an sanctuary (Belize) because he thought that the likelihood of him being sent back to the US is slim to none.
    Belize MUST honor extradiction treaties. No special treatment should be given to pimps,murderers and child molesters. SEND HIS %&^% back to face trial.

  23. Lourdes says:

    As the sister of Rhett Fuller’s co-defendent, my brother did his time for the crime that he, Alex and Rhett all, yes all took part in. He knows he was there because..well just leave it at that. My nephews had to live without their dad for 15 years. Our family had to visit my brother in jail and his sons grew up without him. So sorry if I seem alittle cold. I’ve know Rhett since we were kids. I hold no animosity against him or his family but he needs to face this like Carlos and Alex did. Why is he special?

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