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Mar 27, 2009

Justice turns down Rhett Fuller extradition appeal…

Story PictureThis afternoon businessman Rhett Fuller was escorted by his wife and authorities from the Appeals Court to a waiting police vehicle… to once again be remanded to custody, as a result of his extradition appeal being dismissed. And while Fuller had no comment, his attorney Eamon Courtenay, who has been through the highs and lows of the last twenty years with Fuller, expressed disappointment at the ruling of Justices Carey, Mottley and Morrison… but optimism that the next move will be successful.

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Rhett Fuller
“On a personal basis, I am very disappointed in the results. On a personal level I think Mr. Fuller has lived through hell the last twenty years. There have been these allegations against him, this request. Unfortunately, the prejudice and the abuse, I think the court feels they don’t have jurisdiction to hear it. Now we can make those representations to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for him to make a decision as to whether he is going to send a Belizean to the United States for trial in the circumstances which exist in respect of Rhett. I think It’s very important for us to remember that the basis of this entire this request extradition by the United States is based on a lie. They lied to the minister when they initiated these proceedings against Mr. Fuller and we’ll be making that point to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The United States knew that he was here, the United States tried to get him involved in drug trafficking, their D.E.A agent, Mr. Harpman came to him and took him with Broaster to the police station and tried to get him to be a agent for them to get somebody involve for drug trafficking. They didn’t disclose that to the minister, they didn’t tell the minister that they came and set him up with an uzi and planted an uzi on him to get him into prison. It is a disgraceful thing that they have put this man through. And I think that Minister Elrington, when he considers these issues, is going to come down on the side of Rhett Fuller and decide that it really is unjust and unfair for all these things to have happened to him. We are not saying that if he is wanted for an offence he should not go. What we are saying is so much time has passed that what has happened is that the whole thing has become prejudicial to him and oppressive. People are concerned that the Americans have brought agents here already to take him out; I’m certain that that’s not going to happen. We have a letter already from a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, who had written when he was in office that there will be no surrender of Mr. Fuller until the proceedings are complete and the proceedings are not complete, so he cannot be spirited out of here by any American agents and I sincerely hope the Americans don’t try that.”

And as Courtenay is quick the point out, this is just another round in the continuing battle to free Fuller of the allegations in connection with the 1990 killing of Florida resident, Larry Miller in the U.S. Courtenay says he and his client have plans to appeal to the Minister and are gearing up for the Privy Council if needs be. And as for the concern that the Foreign Minister, to whom the appeal is to be lodged, and the Attorney General, who is representing the United State’s interests are one and the same, Courtenay hopes that Wilfred Elrington will be able to strike a balance.

Eamon Courtenay
“We hope that Minister Elrington will be able to divorce himself from the fact that his office is representing the United States of America and understand that the discretion that he has to make is a discretion that balances the national interests on one hand and on the other hand the interest of Mr. Fuller, who is at this stage still innocent.”

Kendra Griffith
“What is the process to the appeal to the minister?”

Eamon Courtenay
“Well, that’s a very interesting one. I also made the point to the Court of Appeal that there is nothing set out to the law for that process. The law doesn’t provide anything what happens is that the Chief Magistrate should have made a report to the minister, and I take it that we are going to be given a copy of that report for us to make comments and representations in addition to that on behalf of Rhett. I will be in touch with the minister very early next week to find out from him what is the procedure that he is going to put in this place so that this can be done and we just assume and we have to be prepare if he were to say I think he still should be surrendered, then we are going to challenge that decision in court. We shouldn’t forget that Mr. Fuller also has a right to appeal to the Privy Council. A person who I would describe as perhaps the world’s greatest extradition lawyer, Ed Fitzgerald Q.C. has already said that he is going to take up the appeal. We also have Julian Knowles from Matrix Chambers, another leading—in fact, Julian has written books on extradition. I have briefed these guys on this case and they were actually trying to get down here to be apart of the team on the appeal but they had conflicts there but we are going to go to the Privy Council with this, so the fight has just began.”

Courtenay says he will apply for bail for his client early next week. Fuller has been out on bail since 2000.


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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