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Jul 24, 2013

Rhett Fuller continues to fight extradition to the USA

Rhett Fuller

Belize City businessman Rhett Fuller has spent fifteen years evading the long arms of Uncle Sam. Fuller is wanted by the U.S. for his involvement in the 1990 murder of Larry Miller during a North Miami Beach drug deal gone sour. Since the US started extradition proceedings in 1998, Fuller has taken every legal option including the Privy Council, and got to the stage where Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington signed off on his extradition after a hearing. But Fuller’s attorney, Eamon Courtney, appealed on the grounds that there were errors in that hearing. And the wanted man got what was perhaps his first real break in March 2013 when the Court of Appeal ordered that he reappear before Elrington. Today was the date set for the hearing, and Mike Rudon has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Rhett Fuller’s date with destiny today was not in any one of the many courtrooms he has been in since the start of his legal battle to avoid extradition to the US. Instead the Belize City businessman turned inmate was escorted to the prestigious and lofty Whitfield Tower, where Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington has an office. Fuller’s hearing, to decide if the extradition request by the U.S. would be allowed, was scheduled for ten this morning.

 

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Wilfred Elrington

“Last time we had the hearing, we had made a decision on it—I had made a decision on it—that decision was appealed and the judges of the Court of Appeal asked me to revisit the matter and deal with two issues which they thought had not been adequately dealt with at that hearing. So this morning that is what we will be dealing with…the two issues that had not been adequately dealt with. One was he is alleging that to send him back would be oppressive to him. I think that is essentially the first ground that they are using. And the second was that they had complained about a report which should have been sent by the magistrate at the time the committal was made and that had not been sent and was not available to the other side at the time of the hearing.”

 

While Fuller looked serious but calm as he walked in this morning, his future would be written by this meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

 

Wilfred Elrington

“Really, it is my decision. I make a decision and I imagine, they will be at liberty to appeal it again depending on what I do, but that is the process.”

 

Less than twenty minutes after they headed up, the meeting was over and Fuller’s attorney Eamon Courtenay came out to give the news of another reprieve, albeit a very temporary one.

 

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Fuller

“The Minister looked at the evidence that we provided to him and felt that he should give Mister Fuller an opportunity to get the evidence of an expert. Mister Fuller and his wife have a daughter that is very sick, who is an autistic, and the Minister would like evidence as to the effects of a surrender of Mister Fuller on his daughter. So he has given the Fullers six weeks to provide expert evidence in that regard. We are very grateful for that opportunity. We had two letters before the minister from the experts available in Belize. But now he has given us time to try to go to the experts from the U.S. who actually diagnosed Gabriella and to see if that expert would be able to give an affidavit so that he has sworn evidence from that expert. And we hope with that evidence it will waiver heavily on the minister as to whether or not Mister Fuller is to be extradited.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

According to Courtenay, at this stage this isn’t good news or bad, just something that needs to be done to further his client’s cause, which remains denial of the requested extradition to the U.S.

 

Eamon Courtenay

“We need to get an expert who is going to give the Minister the evidence from a professional view point for the minister to consider. As I said, we already have two letters written by two experts, but the minister prefers to have it by way of affidavit evidence and so he has given us six weeks to try to get that evidence.”

 

Fuller has three children with his wife, Ann Marie, who was present at today’s hearing. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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