Judge rules Karol Mello illegally detained, but new charges will keep him in jail!

Slovakian national Karol Mello remains in Police custody, even though Supreme Court Justice Oswald Legall ruled last Friday, August 10, that the Government of Belize had illegally detained him.

Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer denied Mello bail late Friday afternoon, when he  was brought before  her on charges of perjury and uttering a passport which he was not entitled to utter.

These new charges have effectively nullified the writ of habeas corpus that Mello’s attorney, Godfrey Smith, had filed to determine the validity of his client’s detention.

Smith had also secured an injunction from the Supreme Court to prevent the Immigration Department from expelling his client.

However, the Immigration Department claimed that when Mello filed for permanent residence on September 17, 2011, he perjured himself when he said his Slovak passport, #3191427, was valid until November 26, 2011, when it wasn’t.

The department  contends that Mello used his passport, even though he knew the Slovak Government had cancelled it around July 18, 2011.

After listening to submissions from attorney Andrew Marshalleck, who was substituting for Smith, and the prosecution, Frazer adjourned the case until August 20.

A Belmopan Magistrate will now decide if Mello should be granted bail, as the matter was transferred to the Belmopan  Court, because Mello’s alleged perjury was committed in that jurisdiction.

Difficulties in the Karol Mello case

Mello has been in police custody since San Pedro Police detained him on  Wednesday, July 11.

The government of Belize has tried  to expel him from Belize, but his case poses some practical difficulties for Belizean authorities, because Belize and the Slovak Republic do not have an extradition treaty.

Immigration minister, Hon. Godwin Hulse, reportedly told a local television news station that Mello should “face the music.”

After Friday’s ruling, Marshalleck said, “The minister exercises the power to expel improperly in that he was motivated in his decision by an improper purpose.

“If the purpose is to send somebody off to a foreign country to face criminal charges, the legal proceeding by which that is done is by extradition and what you can’t do is used immigration powers to accomplish an extradition.”

Marshalleck explained that to extradite someone to face charges in another country, there must be an extradition treaty with that other country, and there are procedures that must be followed.

“When you seek to deport a person, what you do is circumvent all the protections built in to the extradition law and that the court is clearly not prepared to countenance.”

He said that if the government wants to hand over Mr. Mello to Slovakia, then they need to enter into an extradition treaty and follow the provisions of the Extradition Act.

But Mello is far from being home free, as the Belize Immigration Department has revoked his permanent resident status. His attorneys are already at work to challenge that decision, which Marshalleck has characterized as “tainted by the same improper purpose and also vitiated.”

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