Ish and Steve lose constitutional motion

In his ruling, Justice Vasheist Kokaram said the Act was an “acceptable exception” to the Constitution, and should not be used to circumvent the prosecution of criminals.

“This country cannot be a safe haven for criminal activity,” Kokaram said.

The ruling lifted the “stay” imposed at the start of the hearing and now leaves the fate of the businessmen, who are wanted in the United States to answer fraud charges, in the hands of the Attorney General.

Immediately after the ruling yesterday, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan told Newsday the extradition request would be engaging his attention “very soon.”

Ramlogan said he had learnt of the ruling, but was in the middle of dealing with the damage caused by persistent flooding.

“I not dealing with that right now. I am presently coordinating flood relief efforts,” he said.

“However, the matter would receive my due care and attention very soon,” he added.

He said the businessmen remained incarcerated, and he would now have to consider and make a decision on the representations made to him by the businessmen.

Under Section 16 of the Extradition Act, the final decision to sign the warrants for extradition to a requesting State lies with the Attorney General.

In the Port-of-Spain High Court, as he dismissed the motion, Kokaram said the Constitution did not guarantee a right “not to be extradited.”

“In our modern democracy with the growing need for comity of nations to preserve social order, a freedom from being made the subject of surrendering to a foreign nation to answer for crimes that the individual may have committed, there appears to me to have no social or moral value which would merit constitutional protection,” he said.

He said careful analysis of the motion involved taking a “contextual approach” and balancing “public rights” against “international justice and comity.”

He said there was no breach of the claimants’ right to freedom of movement, but rather a restriction on that right.

“The claimants are neither exiled, nor banished from this country, but are surrendered to the requesting State in an interactive process of criminal justice,” the judge said.

He said the extradition procedure was “fair”, with remedies of judicial review, habeas corpus writs, and challenges to the Court of Appeal and Privy Council available as safeguards.

The constitutional motion brought by the two men claimed that the Extradition Act infringed their rights under Sections 4 and 5 of the Constitution.

Fyard Hosein, SC, Rishi Dass, Nyree Alfonso and Sasha Bridgemohan appeared for the businessmen.

Kelvin Ramkissoon and Michael Quamina represented the Attorney General.

Ferguson, former CEO of Maritime General, and Galbaransingh, Northern Construction Ltd executive chairman, are wanted in the United States to answer charges of wire fraud, money laundering, bid-rigging and conspiracy, after they were indicted by a US grand jury on November 29, 2005.


"Ish and Steve lose constitutional motion"

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