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Sep 29, 2020

After Years of Battling Extradition to the U.S. Deon Bruce is Set Free

He has been in prison for six years, but tonight Deon Bruce is a free man. His extradition request had been meandering through the courts for as long as he had been behind walls.  But the Court of Appeal this afternoon ordered his immediate release from the Belize Central Prison where he has been locked up since January 2014.  Bruce was arrested in 2013 on an extradition request from the U.S. government.  He is accused of fatally shooting Aron Carter and Bryan Rogers in July 2010 in Chicago, U.S.A. and was wanted for murder and attempted murder charges.  Then Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith ordered his extradition.  The matter went to the Supreme Court and Justice Courtney Abel refused a judicial review of the Chief Magistrate’s decision, but Bruce’s then-attorney, Audrey Matura successfully argued a stay of extradition. An application for appeal was filed and was granted by Justice Michelle Arana. Bruce’s attorney Anthony Sylvestre was successful in convincing the court that the then Chief Magistrate failed to examine the extradition bundles. Sylvestre explained via phone this evening. 


On the Phone: Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney for Deon Bruce  

“The Court of Appeal this afternoon granted the appeal. There was an appeal that was filed in the court in 2018. Going back to 2013 a warrant for his apprehension for his arrest was issued and he was arrested and detained. This was as a result from an extradition request having been launch by the United States Government and arising from their allegations they commission of several offences in the state of Illinois. In the magistrate court, the then Chief Magistrate would have looked through the bundles of documents and was required to see whether the evidence which was supplied, which was sent that reached the threshold and satisfied the threshold what we Belize refer to as a prima facie case. What has to be done is this has to be examined by the magistrate in relation to the each and every offence. So what we found after Mister Bruce was ordered to be extradited we examined the documents and we realize that in fact that was required by the examining magistrate was not done. So the examining magistrate did not look at the specific offences which he was alleged to have committed in the United States and there are about five, six of them. She never did do that and the law requires, puts an obligation on the examining magistrate to do. So after so many years the matter has finally concluded and we were able to be successful in the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal found favor in the arguments that we put forward. So Mister Bruce was ordered to be released immediately. Importantly significantly, he was discharged from all extradition proceedings.”


Hipolito Novelo

“Has your client spoken to you about seeking redress, suing the state?”


Deon Bruce

On the Phone: Anthony Sylvestre

“I haven’t spoken to him as yet but you are right. He was actually being detained, being held unlawfully and actually in contravention of the extradition act. So that those raise the issue of him being able to seek redress for those years in which he would have been unlawfully detained.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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