By Caribbean News Now contributor
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- A high court judge in Trinidad has stayed extradition proceedings against former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, but the former minister’s attorneys say they will not be rushed as they seek to challenge the legality of the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act, and the treaty signed between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.
Warner is wanted in the US to answer eight counts of racketeering and fraud during his tenure at the world’s football governing body.
At a sitting in Port-of-Spain on Friday, Justice James Aboud gave Warner permission to challenge the authority to proceed signed last September by attorney general Faris Al-Rawi, which gave the chief magistrate the go ahead to begin committal proceedings, Newsday reported.
He granted Warner permission to challenge the legality of the authority to proceed, as well as, what he referred to as the “sincerity” of the offer by Al-Rawi to the former FIFA vice president and the response of the former minister.
The judge said while the first ground of complaint was arguable with a realistic prospect of success, the latter barely crossed the bar, Newsday noted.
He said, however, that the complaint of apparent bias by the attorney general for reportedly receiving advice from attorneys representing the requesting state (United States) failed to get off the ground as he found no evidence to impugn the impartiality of Al-Rawi.
Warner must file his lawsuit by February 5 and the matter has been adjourned to February 26, when dates will be set for a hearing of the substantive case.
According to Newsday, temperatures began to rise in the courtroom after the judge advised that he intended to run on a tight schedule and will be prioritising the extradition hearing, as any delay will only serve to retard the momentum of the case.
Warner’s lead counsel, Fyard Hosein SC, warned against rushing the case to pander to the United States.
“I don’t see why this case is being treated as a priority because some foreign government they have an issue with a citizen of this country,” Hosein said.
However, lead counsel for the state, Douglas Mendes SC, made it clear the state was not seeking to compromise the rights of claimants, but he noted that extraditions involved an agreement between states and persons should be mindful to continue the comity between states even as the process is being challenged.
Following the exchange between lead counsel, Aboud made it clear that he treated all extradition hearings with expediency.
“I believe it is in the interests of the police whose return is being required,” he assured.
Aboud said a person who did not want his extradition case to proceed expediently must have a good reason for not wanting his case to be treated in this way.