By Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands -- The Governor’s Office in the Turks and Caicos Islands has confirmed the arrival of former premier Michael Misick at the JAGS McCartney International Airport in Grand Turk on Tuesday morning following his extradition from Brazil.
“The UK government welcomes the arrival of former premier Michael Misick in Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) to face a number of serious charges relating to corruption and maladministration during his time in office. They are most grateful to the Brazilian authorities for their swift handling of TCI’s extradition request,” a statement by the Governor’s Office read.
“It is important for the people of TCI, a UK Overseas Territory, that the rule of law is respected and due process is followed. It will now be down to the TCI courts to consider Michael Misick’s case as well as that of 14 others charged with similar offences,” it concluded.
Former premier Michael Misick when he appeared on local television to deny allegations of raping an American visitor to the TCI
Premier Dr Rufus Ewing said he was officially informed on Monday morning by Governor Peter Beckingham of the impending arrival of the former premier and, on receiving confirmation of Misick’s arrival on Tuesday, Ewing said, “I welcome the return of Premier Misick to the Turks and Caicos Islands, the home that he loves, and to his family and friends, who have all been praying for his safe return. Premier Misick will be processed and I trust that through the will of God, fairness and justice will prevail and the rule of law will be executed in a manner that is fair, respectful and transparent as it upholds his basic human rights.”
Supporters of the disgraced former premier in Grand Turk were making it known to local residents that they planned to protest at Misick’s arrival and have reportedly prepared yellow tee shirts saying "Free Mike". This has others on the capital island upset and another resident in Providenciales asking, "What is wrong with our people?"
A Commission of Inquiry in 2008-9 found there was “a high probability of systemic corruption in government and the legislature and among public officers in the Turks and Caicos Islands”.
In the wake of this inquiry, UK Ministers instructed the TCI governor to suspend part of the Constitution and the then elected government (led by Michael Misick), setting up an interim administration.
In 2010, a special investigation and prosecution team (SIPT) was set up to look into the corruption allegations. It comprised up to 33 ex-UK police investigators and prosecutors, at its height, working with the TCI authorities.
Once Misick was implicated in the investigations, he fled but was subsequently arrested in Brazil in December 2012 under an Interpol “Red Notice”. TCI authorities sought his extradition from Brazil and this has now been granted and implemented.
To date 14 people have been charged, ten of whom appeared in court this week for a plea and directions hearing, with full trial planned for July 2014.
It is also believed that the SIPT is working in concert with US law enforcement and, at some point, Misick will have to face charges in the US.
According to another unofficial report circulating at high levels in the TCI, between five and seven other people are facing arrest in early January. Over a year ago, the SIPT indicated that there were several layers of corruption that were discovered during their investigation phase, which is continuing.