Mistrust: US wants its lawyers in Jack Warner lawsuit

...Appeal Court to decide

(Trinidad Express) The United States Government is taking no chances when it comes to its interests being represented in a judicial review lawsuit filed by former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, who is challenging the legality of the procedure being used to extradite him to that country.

So much so, that British Queen’s Counsel James Lewis told a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeal in Port of Spain yesterday that his client did not have total confidence in the Office of the Attorney General to properly present the United States’ argument before Justice James Aboud before whom the lawsuit is being heard at the High Court.

Jack Warner
Jack Warner

The attorney made the submission as he addressed the court in an appeal filed by the US Government after Aboud dismissed an application earlier this year in which the United States was seeking to become a party to the judicial review proceedings.

In his judgment delivered in June, Justice Aboud had stated that even though the proceedings was relative to Warner’s extradition, the issue up for determination was strictly domestic and, as such, did not warrant the participation of the United States.

The judge had said that it was his opinion that the US could not make any useful input in the proceedings that could assisting the court in arriving at the proper and correct decision.

Aboud had noted that the United States’ case was being presented by the Attorney General’s Office and that he was unaware of what the United States could say differently from the AG’s Office.

“It cannot be to say the same thing differently. Is the AG’s position different from the US? Does the AG want the US to say something he won’t say? It must be able to offer something more than repetition,” Aboud had said.

Warner’s claim challenges the Authority to Proceed (ATP) which was signed last September by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, which gave Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar the greenlight to begin committal proceedings. He is also challenging the legality of the Extra-dition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act, and the Treaty signed between this country and the United States. He is contending that the parts of the treaty does not conform with certain sections of the Extradition Act.

At yesterday’s hearing which was presided over by Chief Justice Ivor Archie, and Justices of Appeal Allan Mendonca and Peter Jamadar, Lewis said the United States is directly affected by the proceedings and, given this, has a right to be heard as a separate party even though its interest is being represented by the AG’s Office.

“Is it that you do not trust the Attorney General to represent your interest?” asked Archie.

“Well that is one way of putting it,” Lewis responded. “You cannot just trust your interest to be made by someone else. He may concede on an area that we would not and that is why we have a right to be there to make sure our interest and argument is properly put forward,” he added.

Lewis added that the court was dealing with “a high level and complex procedure that has never been argued before” and which will have an impact on all other extradition matters between this country to the United States. “That is why the court should welcome all assistance available. This is not a simple run-of-the-mill matter,” Lewis stated.

Senior Counsel Fyard Hosein who leads a team of attorneys on behalf of Warner labelled Lewis’s statement that his client did not fully trust the Office of the Attorney General to properly represent its interest as “ very powerful one” given the arrangement between the two nations.

After listening to close to four hours of submissions from attorneys representing both sides, the court reserved its ruling to a date that is yet to be announced.


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