Crime

Defense questions US’ evidence in Seawell extradition case

sea Chief Magistrate, Ann Marie Smith will rule next month on submissions made by Gary Seawell’s attorney, Arthur Saldivar, that the evidence the United States in relying on to extradite him, does not comply with the requirement of the law.

Saldivar made the submissions on Tuesday, but Crown Counsel from the Solicitor General’s office, Illania Swift, who is representing the United States, disagrees.

Swift submitted that the case should proceed on the facts the U.S. presented in its bundle of evidence and not on the procedural grounds that Saldivar is challenging.

Saldivar is basing his objection to the evidence on almost a dozen affidavits that were signed by a notary public, whose commissions had expired before the documents were sent to Belize in the U.S. extradition request for Seawell.

“The objection of the defense is one of a factual flaw, appearing on the record for each and every document purporting to be an affidavit from the U.S. government to the Belize government,” Saldivar argued.

“Gary Seawell,” Saldivar continued, “respectfully submits that none of the documents submitted is evidence against him.”

The U.S. government erred and wants the Belize government to be complicit in denying Gary Seawell his freedom, Saldivar told the Chief Magistrate.

But Saldivar’s arguments did not convince Swift, who argued that in the extradition case of Rhett Fuller, the Belize Court of Appeal held that the method the U.S. used in seeking Seawell’s extradition are consistent with the UK’s 1870 Extradition Act.

After the hearing was adjourned, Saldivar told reporters that the documents the U.S. sent for Seawell’s extradition were not what they purported to be.

Under the law, he said, the makers of the statements were not told that they were under oath to tell the truth and so they did not swear to an oath to tell the truth.

“When a document is presented to the court, it must be a judicial document, one that the court is capable of examining,” Saldivar explained.

The question of hearsay evidence against Seawell came up during the hearing. But Saldivar said that it was on the basis of hearsay evidence that made the Andrew Brown extradition case fail in Belize courts.

He said that the notary public in the U.S. who took and signed statements from individuals, but did not disclose to the individuals that they were under an oath to tell the truth.

Chief Magistrate Smith will deliver her decision on October 21.

If the court accepts Saldivar’s argument it could signal the end of the U.S. extradition case against Gary Seawell, who is wanted on a U.S. grand jury indictment for allegedly shipping cocaine into the U.S. and for money laundering, which involves about one million dollars which he allegedly moved between Texas, Miami and Belize.

Mark Seawell, a brother of Gary, who also is the subject of a U.S. extradition request, recently had a habeas corpus hearing before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, and is awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court.

Duane Seawell, a third Seawell brother, is presently serving out a 17-year sentence in the U.S., after he pleaded guilty in 2007 to two counts of narcotics trafficking and one count of money laundering.

While he was vacationing in Jamaica, U.S. agents captured Dunae Seawell and took him to stand trial.

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