There have been many statements made in the public arena following the arrest of Mr. Jack Warner on 27th May 2015. This is of course expected due to the effect this matter has had worldwide and Mr. Warner’s public standing in Trinidad and Tobago. However, many erroneous and misleading statements have been made and I wish to clarify these issues so that the public can better understand what is currently taking place.
First, I would like to inform the public that we have had numerous extradition matters in Trinidad and Tobago which may have gone unnoticed due to the lack of publicity given to them. It is by no means a rare occurrence and each matter has been treated in the same manner. There are specific procedures which must be followed in accordance with Trinidad and Tobago’s treaty obligations.
In Mr. Warner’s matter, a request was received from the United States Department of Justice at 7:30am on 27th May 2015 for a provisional arrest warrant for the purposes of extradition. The Central Authority followed the usual process and contacted the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) to advise them of the existence of the request for the provisional arrest warrant and the accompanying information. The TTPS was charged with the responsibility of appearing before the Chief Magistrate to obtain the warrant, which was obtained at approximately 12:45pm.
Mr. Warner presented himself to the Fraud Squad a few minutes before 3pm and the warrant was executed on him a few minutes after 3pm. Mr. Warner was then taken before the Chief Magistrate half an hour later. Mr. Warner is a well-known person in our society and a Member of Parliament and as such I instructed the attorneys acting for the State that bail should not be opposed but that special conditions be attached. Mr. Warner was granted bail in the sum of $2.5 million but unfortunately was unable to secure bail which led to his detention in prison overnight. Mr. Warner was released the next day when he was able to produce the requisite documents for bail.
A request for a provisional arrest warrant is usually sent in situations of emergency where the Requesting State, in this case the United States of America, believes that the person named in the request may be a flight risk. In these circumstances it is customary for the Central Authority to request the provisional arrest warrant immediately.
I wish to state that it is not within my power to sign a provisional arrest warrant or any such document. Although I reviewed the evidence, it is not within my jurisdiction to adjudicate over such. This power is given solely to the Court and accordingly the Magistrate was fully apprised of the evidence supporting the application for the provisional arrest warrant and this is what she would have acted upon.
This procedure outlined is the normal process followed by the Central Authority for each extradition matter. There is therefore nothing unusual in the process adopted for Mr. Warner’s matter. No special privileges are given in these matters as the Central Authority conducts its matters equally and without prejudice.
In matters such as these, the Central Authority has no duty to contact the persons named in the requests made by the Requesting State prior to applying for a warrant. In fact, it would be unusual to alert any accused in advance of applying for a warrant.
If one peruses the online media they would recognize that Mr. Warner’s matter is part of a wider investigation which involves not only him but also 14 high ranking officials of FIFA. I wish to emphasize the fact that this is a matter emanating from the United States of America and has no relation whatsoever to the internal politics in Trinidad and Tobago as alleged. Trinidad and Tobago has a duty to adhere to the Treaties to which it is bound but the usual conduct would be to do so in a fair and proper manner taking into consideration its duty to citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.
Whilst I understand that this is an election year, I do not believe that this is a matter which should be used for political gain and thus urge all parties involved and the public to respect the system and institutions involved and allow justice to take its due course.
Senator Garvin Nicholas
Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago