Court reserves judgment in extradition matter dating back to 2007

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BELMOPAN, Belize, Apr 1, CMC – The Supreme Court of Appeal will rule on April 6 whether a Belizean national in custody since 2007 should be extradited to the United States where he is wanted on a number of drug related charges.
The Court Friday reserved its judgement after hearing arguments on behalf of Mark Seawell, who has been in custody here since 2007 on a request of the US State Department for his arrest.
Seawell is the last of three siblings who ran afoul of the law on suspicion of their involvement in an international drug trafficking organization.  His brother, Gary Seawell, was freed from prison on November 4 last year, following a protracted legal battle which ended with a Court of Appeal decision in his favour.
Attorney Ben Cooper, who represented Gary Seawell, has put forward a similar argument before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, with the arguments having to do with the validity of Seawell’s committal warrant.
“The argument that we have put forward  is a new argument in Mark Seawell’s case that wasn’t raised before which now focuses on the validity of the committal warrant and whether it serves its purpose and whether the basic statutory requirements of the extradition act were fulfilled by the chief examining magistrate responsible for his committal hearing,” Cooper told reporters.
He said the purpose of the warrant is to specify after the judge has accessed whether a prima facie case is made out, whether each and every offense alleged consists of a prima facie case on the evidence and the judge also has to determine whether due criminality is made out.
“Having considered all of the evidence and all of those tests the judge needs to stipulate in the warrant each and every offense under the foreign law.”
The attorney said he would not want to elaborate on the arguments , saying “it would probably be more appropriate of me to give more details coming further after the Chief Justice has ruled on our arguments because at the moment the arguments are being presented to the court and judgment is reserved until Thursday of next week and we really need to await the judge’s assessment and determination of our arguments at this stage”.

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