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Warner granted leave to appeal to Privy Council


Warner granted leave to appeal to Privy Council

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PORT OF SPAIN – Former international football strongman, Jack Warner, Monday received conditional leave to take before the London-based Privy Council, his challenge against being extradited to the United States to face corruption charges.

A three-member Court of Appeal also set out reduced time-frames for the procedural steps to be taken by Warner, who had his initial claim for judicial review dismissed by High Court judge James Aboud in 2017.

The new time-frames include paying a fee and settling the record, before final leave can be granted for him to take his case to the court in London, Trinidad and Tobago’s final and highest court.

Justices Nolan Bereaux, Judith Jones and Charmaine Pemberton also granted a conditional stay of the committal proceedings in the magistrates’ court until the hearing and determination of the appeal in the Privy Council.

Senior Counsel Fyard Hosein told the Appeal Court that the State has indicated his client had a valid appeal. He also submitted that the country’s extradition treaty with the United States was inconsistent with the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act.

But Senior Counsel, Douglas Mendes, who is representing the State agreed to the stay but urged Warner’s legal team to seek an expedited hearing of the appeal at the Privy Council since, according to him, the case could impact all extraditions to the US.

He said the issue needed to be pronounced on since, if Warner’s arguments were correct, then no one could be extradited until the flaw was corrected.

The 76-year-old Warner is contesting the process by which the extradition proceedings against him were being carried out and seeking to quash the authority to proceed (ATP) which was signed in 2016 by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.

Warner, a former senior government minister here as well as a former FIFA vice president and CONCACAF president, is also challenging the legality of the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act, and the treaty signed between this country and the US.

In a 40-page written decision dismissing his latest claim in June, the Court of Appeal said the extradition treaty had not been shown to lack conformity with the Act and there was no merit in Warner’s case that the US order which declared that country as a declared foreign territory was not valid.

“Therefore, the pending extradition proceedings in respect of the appellant before the magistrate are valid,” the Court of Appeal ruled, adding that “there was no denial of justice in the issuance of the ATP by the Attorney General.”

Warner, who is on TT$2.5 million bail, was one of nine former and current executives of football’s world governing body, FIFA, to be named in a 47-count indictment by then US Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, back in 2015.

The indictment alleged racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracies among other offences spanning 24 years in a scheme “to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer”.

Cayman Islands’ Jeffrey Webb, who replaced Warner as CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president following the cash-for-votes scandal of 2011, was also indicted. He subsequently pleaded guilty and is currently awaiting sentencing in the US.

Warner is charged with 12 offences related to racketeering, corruption and money-laundering allegedly committed in the jurisdiction of the United States and Trinidad and Tobago, dating as far back as 1990.

But Warner has claimed the case against him is politically motivated, accusing the United States of seeking revenge because it lost to Qatar in its bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

He surrendered himself to police here in 2015, after learning of the provisional warrant for his arrest. (CMC)