BVI News

Extradition hearing adjourned; journalists locked out

Bob Hodge

Bob Hodge. File photo

Earl ‘Bob’ Hodge and former Customs Officer Roberto ‘Tico’ Harrigan were today called before the Magistrate’s Court for the official start of their extradition hearing involving the United States Justice Department.

The Department is making a fresh attempt to have both men extradited to the United States to face drug-related charges.

The proceedings, which are being heard by Magistrate Shawn Innocent, have been adjourned until tomorrow, June 7.

The matter is scheduled to last for the next three weeks, and journalists are not being allowed inside the court during the proceedings.

Magistrate Innocent, who usually presides in another jurisdiction, is in the British Virgin Islands specifically for the case involving Hodge and Harrigan.

Should Magistrate Innocent rule in favour of the US and order the extradition, Hodge and Harrigan – according to law – will have a 14-day window to apply to the High Court to challenge the ruling.

Hodge and Harrigan were arrested on February 7 this year when members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) acted upon new warrants they had received from the United States Justice Department.

Since then, Magistrate Innocent has granted bail to both men who are jointly being represented by attorneys Patrick Thompson and Stephen Daniels.

Background

This is the latest of at least three attempts that the United States is making to have the two men extradited from the British Virgin Islands.

Initially, they were seeking to extradite four. The other two men were Carlston Beazer and Chad Skelton.

In the year 2012, then High Court judge Justice Albert Redhead ruled that the men were NOT to be sent to the United States.

Following that ruling, the prosecution obtained new evidence against the four men, and then Governor Boyd McCleary issued an Order for a second extradition hearing to take place.

The four men, through their attorneys, challenged the Governor’s order through a judicial review, which was heard by Justice Vicki Ann Ellis.

Justice Ellis ruled in 2015 against the Governor’s Office Order to have the second extradition hearing.

All four initially sought were then released from police custody in late 2015, after they spent more than three years behind bars trying to fight the extradition requests in court.

The quartet, in the meantime, was slapped with local charges. But the prosecution dropped those while it pursued the extradition matter without success.

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