Another matter regarding extradition to U.S. courts began today in the No. 1 Magistrate’s Court. Deon Bruce, 28, appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann-Marie Smith with one of three counsel, Bryan Neal, where he was formally told that the Cook County Circuit Court based in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. wants him on multiple charges including murder. Bruce was detained by the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) on Thursday afternoon and held by authorities at the Queen Street Police Station, and another of his counsel, Michael Peyrefitte, told other media houses that he was at first denied permission to see and speak to him. A perturbed Peyrefitte questioned whether the GSU has authority above the law, since head of Special Branch and former GSU leader Superintendent Mark Vidal, reportedly gave the order that he not be allowed to speak to his client. According to Bryan Neal, the police later backed down. Here is how he explained it at court today.
Bryan Neal – Attorney at Law:
Last night Mr Peyrefitte, myself, and Mr Kareem Musa went to visit the prisoner at the Police Station, and we were told that we could not see him. Following the interview that Mr Peyrefitte gave, it seems that the powers that be came to their senses, and allowed him to have his Constitutional rights. We saw him last night.
We will sit as attorneys and we will discuss it and see what avenues we have.
He was at some point living in the United States, and has recently returned to Belize about a year ago.
In court Counsel for the Governments of Belize and the U.S. Magali Perdomo asked for an adjournment to hand over the proper documentation to the court. Mr Neal raised two objections which he describes for reporters.
Bryan Neal – Attorney at Law:
We don’t have the evidence that the United States is relying on. So that’s going to be provided on August the first. But just looking at the Government application it’s said that he was born in the cayman Islands. My instructions are he’s a Belizean, born in Belize, and has never been to the Cayman Islands.
There are some issues that we intend to raise, but we have to wait until we get the documents from the United States.
The case returns to court on August 1, until which time Bruce is remanded.
This morning, we queried Senator Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister in charge of the Department of Immigration and Nationality Services on the issue.
Senator Hon. Godwin Hulse:
The U.S. has approached us with requests for many persons of interest, and we’re working with them.
But remember this Government, and particularly I as the Minister of Immigration, intends to uphold the law to ensure there’s justice and fair play to all. We have a legal system that we do respect. It has a tremendous amount of power. Our processes will honor that people will have their day in court, and that is the process that we must continue to respect and uphold.
Deon Bruce joins a growing list of Belizean citizens facing extradition including the Sewell brothers, Rhett Fuller and Khalid Jamil El Turk, for various offenses.