By Davion Smith, BVI News Online Staff
Governor John Duncan has described as outdated, provisions in existing laws that are being used to pull him before the Magistrate’s Court to testify in an extradition case built on drug running allegations.
He is scheduled to make an appearance at the court located in John’s Hole, Tortola, to testify in the extradition hearing being held for Earl ‘Bob’ Hodge and former Customs officer Roberto ‘Tico’ Harrigan.
Hodge and Harrigan are wanted in the United States.
Governor Duncan said he is not trying to shy away from his responsibility to give evidence.
“It has been the practice for several years now that governors do go into court to give evidence because it’s about accountability. There is an issue though, that we need to modernise our laws a bit because some of our procedures are a bit archaic. It isn’t the modern way,” he told BVI News Online during a Birthday Reception held in honour of Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday evening, June 17.
The governor noted that other countries have modern laws that provide alternatives to a governor physically going to court.
“The fact that I had written to the magistrate would be sufficient [in other countries]… [My concern is] not the fact that I’m giving evidence. In the UK, the Prime Minister has gone to commissions of inquiry and given evidence… People have to answer for what they do.”
Governor Duncan, in the meantime, did not specify the reason he is required to testify in the extradition hearing that is closed to the media.
“I cannot give details of that because it’s sub judice,” he said. The rule of sub judice effectively prohibits a matter from being discussed publicly while it is under judicial consideration.
Hodge and Harrigan – who are jointly being represented by attorneys Patrick Thompson and Stephen Daniels – are in a legal war with the United States Justice Department that is seeking to have them extradited.
The extradition hearing is taking place before Justice Shawn Innocent, who has been brought into the territory specifically for this extradition matter.
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, the United States tried to extradite four men – the other two being Carlston Beazer and Chad Skelton.
In 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. The governor at the time, Boyd McCleary, issued an Order for a second extradition hearing to take place.
But the four men 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 Order to have the second extradition hearing.
The four men were later released from custody until recently when the United States made a fresh extradition request for only two of them – Hodge and Harrigan.
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