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Apr 12, 2007

Family claims breech of rights in U.S. extradition

Story PictureHe was arrested on drug related charges in Jamaica in January and later extradited to the United States but tonight the family of Duane Seawell has launched a legal challenge to the chain of events, asserting that as a Belizean, the accused should have been deported to Belize to face extradition here. Through their attorneys Elson Kaseke and Dickie Bradley, the Seawell family has written to Minister of Foreign Affairs Eamon Courtenay to formally state their objections. In a letter dated April eleventh, Kaseke and Bradley maintain that when U.S. officials took Duane from the Caribbean island against his will, his rights under treaty obligations with Belize were breeched. Seawell had retained former Director of Public Prosecutions in Belize Kirk Anderson to fight his case in Jamaica, but before the motion could be filed, law enforcement officials put his client on a plane to the States. Following Duane’s arrest, authorities here picked up his brother Mark at his Belama home, also on a federal warrant and detained him pending extradition. Kaseke and Bradley also claim that the treatment of Duane will “irreparably prejudice [his brother] Mark Seawell in his defence at any extradition hearings.” To quote, the two maintain that the move “represents the most blatant disregard by the U.S. Government for the rules of international law and treaty law, and for the sovereignty of Belize as an independent country” and that government should “stop the extradition proceedings and refuse to surrender Mark and Gary Seawell … until and unless Duane is released from the U.S. prison” and granted safe passage to Belize. The letter has also been copied to Chief Magistrate Margaret Gabb with the request that she stay the proceedings against Mark Seawell until Courtenay responds to the matter. The extradition request for brothers Mark, Duane and Gary originated in the U.S. in October 2006 and while Mark and Duane are in custody, Gary has yet to be apprehended. All three men are wanted for drug trafficking and money laundering offences. Minister Courtenay was unavailable for comment today as he is out of the country, coincidentally in Jamaica, on an unrelated visit. The minister is expected to return to Belize late next week.

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