Former Fifa vice president and government minister Jack Warner has lost his final appeal over the dismissal of his preliminary legal challenge against the United States’ extradition request for him.
Delivering a judgment on Thursday, five Law Lords of the United Kingdom-based Privy Council rejected Warner’s appeal, as they upheld consistent decisions in the case from the local High Court and Court of Appeal.
However, the outcome of the case, which coincidentally came days after Netflix released its documentary “Fifa Uncovered,” which prominently featured Warner and on the eve of the start of the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar, does not mean that Warner could be immediately extradited.
It simply means that Warner’s extradition proceedings before Chief Magistrate Maria Busby-Earle-Caddle, which were put on hold as he pursued the civil lawsuit, can now resume.
Sir Declan Morgan, who wrote the judgment that was supported by his four colleagues, ruled that this country’s extradition treaty with the US did not contradict the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act, which was passed by Parliament in 1985 before being amended in 2004.
In the case, Morgan had to consider whether an order issued by a former attorney general in 2000 to give effect to the US extradition treaty had to be compared to the original legislation or its amended form.
Stating that the amendment did not interfere with orders issued by attorneys general prior to its passage, Morgan stated that the original legislation applied.
In determining whether there was sufficient conformity between the treaty and the original legislation to allow for the order to be issued, Morgan ruled that minor differences did not constitute a breach.
“For the reasons set out, the Board is satisfied that a broad and generous construction should be applied to the interpretation of conformity in Section 4 (2) of the Act and that the matters raised by the appellant do not lead to any breach of the conformity test,” Morgan said.
As a secondary issue in the appeal, Morgan and his colleagues had to consider the effect of a special arrangement agreed to by former attorney general Faris Al-Rawi, as he issued the authority to proceed (ATP) for the extradition proceedings.
Under the arrangement, Al-Rawi agreed to facilitate the extradition request if the US agreed to only prosecute Warner based on the charges it disclosed and on lesser charges that arose from the evidence it provided.
Morgan ruled that the arrangement was permissible under the legislation.
“The certificate provided by the Attorney General disclosed a speciality arrangement which complied with the Act and which the USA could be expected to honour,” he said.
Morgan also rejected claims that Al-Rawi’s issuance of the ATP was procedurally or substantively unfair.
Noting that Al-Rawi invited submissions from Warner’s lawyers although his predecessor refused the same, Morgan stated that such consultation was not required under the legislation.
However, he commended Al-Rawi for taking the non-mandatory step.
“Although there was no obligation upon him to do so, he (Al-Rawi) was perfectly entitled to take that course,” Morgan said, as he noted that Warner’s attorneys did not take Al-Rawi up on his offer.
The Office of the Attorney General also filed a cross-appeal over the ability of the courts to review the conformity of extradition treaties and the legislation as done in the case.
However, the legal issues raised in the cross-appeal were not considered based on the dismissal of the substantive appeal.
Warner, 79, is accused of 29 charges related to fraud, racketeering and engaging in illegal wire transfers during his tenure as a Fifa vice president.
The offences are alleged to have taken place in the United States, T&T and other jurisdictions between 1990 and June 2011, when Warner quit Fifa after being suspended.
After being arrested on a provisional warrant pursuant to the extradition request, Warner was released on $2.5 million bail.
He is one of several then senior executives of world football’s governing body who were indicted on a series of charges after an investigation into corruption in football, conducted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice in 2015.
Several of his former colleagues have pleaded guilty to the charges and have been sentenced.
Warner’s sons, Daryan and Daryll, were also indicted and pleaded guilty to their charges.
Warner was represented by Clare Montgomery, KC, Fyard Hosein, SC, Anil Maraj, Rishi Dass and Sasha Bridgemohansingh. The AG’s Office was represented by James Lewis, KC, Douglas Mendes, SC, and Rachel Scott.