Lance Small stays in US jail

A motion which Small brought to vacate the conviction and prison sentence was thrown out by Judge William Dimitrouleas in the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, last Friday.

On May 23, 2002, Small was indicted and charged with conspiracy to possess 60 machine guns, possession of machine guns, and possession of ten silencers. He was extradited from Trinidad in 2004 and put on trial.

After a five-day trial, Small was convicted on all three counts. He was sentenced to 151 months in jail on August 4, 2005. He appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal, but his appeal was dismissed on November 8, 2006.

Small then filed a motion in the US District Court on four grounds. He claimed there was insufficient evidence to convict him, and that his extradition to the United States was improper.

The judge found that a prima facie case had been made out against Small and that he was properly convicted.

Small contended that he was improperly extradited from Trinidad. But Judge Dimitrouleas pointed out that under the extradition treaty between the United States and Trinidad and Tobago, an indictable offence in Trinidad was extraditable if punishable as a felony in the United States.

The judge said that in this case, the offences were indictable in Trinidad and the United States.

“By Trinidad’s decision to extradite, one may assume that they considered the offences extraditable,” Judge Dimitrouleas added. “Here, the firearms charges are serious offences in both Trinidad and the United States.”

The judge said Small’s allegation that there was a political motive in extraditing him did not warrant any relief. “There is a political exception to extradition. Here, Small was not charged with a purely political offence, such as treason, sedition or espionage.”

The judge said there was a two-pronged test to determine whether an offence was sufficiently political to be relatively political and fall within the exception. He said there was no political disturbance in the United States at the time of the offence (unless one were to consider September 11 to be political). He said the firearm charges were not incidental to, or in furtherance of any uprising.

Small was a senior member of the Muslimeen and was among the 114 charged with offences arising out the 1990 attempted coup. The accused persons were released in 1992 after the judge ruled that they were the beneficiaries of an amnesty given by the then acting President. But in 1994, the Privy Council ruled that the amnesty was invalid, but said it would be an abuse to prosecute them again.


"Lance Small stays in US jail"

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