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Jan 16, 2014

After fighting extradition for 15 years, Rhett Fuller is finally home free

His legal struggle against extradition to the United States lasted fifteen years, but tonight, Rhett Fuller is finally a free man. Following a decision handed down by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington, the Belizean businessman walked out of the Minister’s chambers at Whitfield Towers in Belize City without shackles or police escort.  Attorney Eamon Courtenay has been fighting the U.S. request for extradition for Fuller’s alleged involvement in a 1990 murder in South Beach, and had exhausted all legal options, up to and including the Privy Council. Fuller’s fate rested in the hands of Minister Elrington, who had refused his application once before in 2011. But in Fuller’s case, the second time was the charm, and this morning he and his family received the good news. Mike Rudon was there and has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

Fuller’s meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington was set for eleven this morning, and within fifteen minutes he walked out a free man, his life given back to him. It could have gone either way, since Elrington had heard and refused an application to him once before. But the news was all good for Fuller and his family.


Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“After I’d given the first decision on the twentieth of September 2011 that was successfully appealed. The Court of Appeal was very clear in its judgment and decision and gave me very good guidelines as to what were my powers and gave me examples of how those powers were in fact exercised in the judicial sphere as well as by the Secretary of State in the United Kingdom. So on this second occasion when I had occasion to revisit the matter I was able to apply those guidelines that were given as well as guidance which I got from other decisions of Commonwealth courts touching on the matter of extradition.”


While those guidelines were no doubt integral to his decision, Elrington says he gave great weight to the argument that Fuller’s children would suffer if extradition was granted.


Wilfred Elrington

“The thing that influenced me most of all was really the impact which the extradition would have had on the children. He has three children. The last one, Gabriella, is a young girl who is seriously autistic and the indications are that there is no proper medical care that she can access here in Belize. Care is expensive, and of course we in Belize don’t have unfortunately the social safety net that you find in other countries where if you’re not employed you can get assistance from the government either through Social Security or other such services. It was evident to me that in fact if the father were sent back the children would have a very difficult time. Already, given the length of this time, the children are already suffering…the affidavits evidence was to the fact that the mother and the children are now living with relatives…the two businesses that they had really are now down to almost the last leg now.”


Fuller has been in and out of prison during the fifteen years fighting extradition. Most recently he was granted bail in 2009 pending a hearing at the Privy Council. When the Privy Council refused his appeal, his bail was revoked and he was remanded in 2011. The application before Minister Elrington was quite literally his last resort.


Wilfred Elrington

Rhett Fuller

“I was also mindful of the fact that this has taken an inordinately long time. I don’t think there has been another case that has taken such a long time to be resolved. It’s almost a quarter of a century…twenty-five years since he has been going through this. I don’t think that the system should be so slow in getting justice. Justice delayed is justice denied, and this is a classic case of justice delayed.”


With Uncle Sam turned away at the door at the twelfth hour, it is unlikely that the news will be greeted with happy feelings. But Elrington says he was obligated to make the decision he did, and the US will just have to respect that.


Wilfred Elrington

“The United States is a country which also believes in the rule of law, and the United States believes that one should act in accordance with one’s laws. I am acting fully in accordance with our law. And I have made that very clear so that they should understand that. They and their judiciary should understand that. Their Executive, they should understand that….I can’t see that having any adverse effect on our relationship with the United States. We have a good relationship with the United States and we will continue to have a good relationship with them. But I was legally bound to do what I did. When I had made the decision in 2011, the Court looked at it and said NO, you did not exercise your obligation. I have an obligation to exercise, and I must exercise it broadly. I am not to limit it.”


According to Elrington, when he ruled against Fuller in 2011, he was basing his decision on him alone. This time he also considered the impacts to his family and to Belize. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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10 Responses for “After fighting extradition for 15 years, Rhett Fuller is finally home free”

  1. Dumb Guy says:

    Maybe Mr. Fuller too would like to accompany the Belize team on their next flight to the US to watch them play some ball. Too funny!

  2. Buju says:

    For once we watch the news and we get positive information…

    I am sure this ordeal took a toll on Mr. Fuller and his family – hope they can try to get things back to normal.

    Excellent decision Hon. Elrington

  3. Melvin says:

    if he was indeed involved in the murder, he needed to face the court. He can get away from the laws of man, but not from the laws of God.

  4. Stuart says:

    Thank you for making Belize sovereign again-this is the response the US gets for trying to shut down our banking and offshore industry by force.

  5. Uncle Benji says:

    Fuller will have to keep a constant watch over his shoulders. It should come as no surprise that on one of his Guatemalan or Mexican trips, he is snatched by U.S. bounty hunters looking for a quick pay day.

    Be careful my brother. Be careful.

  6. Louisville, Ky. says:

    I have mixed feelings about this extradition case.
    If in fact Fuller was a person of interest in this alleged murder, why did it take the authorities 8 years to summon him for trial?
    Then,with regard to his extradition, did Sedi refuse to send him back to answer charges based only on humanitarian grounds in consideration of Fuller’s autistic daughter? Ah mean to say, if you are accused of killing someone, Autistic pickney or not, you need to face the music and have your day in court.
    So, I no know how to feel bout this Fuller situation but…..Jah know, so I’ll leave it in his hands.

  7. Al Rich says:

    If Rhett is not guilty good for him; however, if he is guilty I can only say he will pay one way or the other. If guilty this is only man’s get out of jail free card.

  8. isabeli says:

    If the US wanted him its because he was involved in some way, think about that person’s family, the pain of losing their loved one and now knowing that one of the person’s involved will be living happily with his family, a free man!

  9. Hammer says:

    How about the family of the deceased? Guess Hon Elrington didn’t think of them

  10. Dennis Gelinas says:

    I worked for Rhett, he was a good man/husband/father.
    The US is in the business of putting people in jail for profit, Rhett has suffered more than enough.
    They have 5% of the world’s population and 25% of it’s prisoners, enough said.
    Justice was served here, glad to see someone stand up to US Imperialist bullies.

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