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US applies to be made interested party
Former government minister Jack Warner’s extradition proceedings took another turn yesterday when the United States government attempted to intervene in his judicial review lawsuit challenging Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s decision to sign off on its request to have him extradited to face charges in the ongoing Fifa bribery scandal.
During a status hearing in the Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday morning, attorney Vanessa Gopaul, who is representing the US, appeared in court and indicated her client intended to apply to be joined as an interested party.
Her statement was immediately opposed by Warner’s lawyer Fyard Hosein, SC, who questioned the reason for the country’s attempt to enter the case.
“It (the US) is partisan in its approach. They want to get Warner there in the shortest possible time,” Hosein said.
Stating that Hosein will be able to make extensive submissions on the issue at a later date, Justice James Aboud then instructed Gopaul to file her client’s application by March 18. Hosein also has until that date to file an application to adduce expert testimony in the case.
Warner, in his claim, is questioning the procedure adopted by the Office of the Attorney General in signing off on the US’s request for his extradition made in May, last year, at the end of the US Department of Justice’s investigation into Fifa. He is facing fraud and money-laundering charges related to his two decades as a vice-president of world football’s governing body.
Earlier this year, Aboud granted Warner a stay of his ongoing extradition proceedings currently before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar, which will expire after Aboud decides on the legality and constitutionality of his extradition.
Warner’s attorneys are alleging that this country’s extradition treaty with the US contradicts the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act. They are claiming that, in passing the act, Parliament afforded citizens certain protections which are ignored by the international treaty.
He is also complaining that Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi failed to give his attorneys a fair opportunity to make representations to him before he signed off on the Authority to Proceed, which was required to kick off the proceedings before Ayers-Caesar.
Shortly after taking over the case from his predecessor Garvin Nicholas in September, last year, Al-Rawi extended the option to Warner. However, his attorneys allegedly refused as they said it was made a day before Al-Rawi was required to approve the extradition.
Warner is also being represented by Nyree Alfonso, Rishi Dass and Anil Maraj, while the State is being represented by Douglas Mendes, SC, and Michael Quamina.