Former FIFA Vice-President, Jack Warner, emerged from the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain, with a legal victory on Friday as the Court of Appeal blanked the United States from being part of judicial review proceedings brought by Warner.
The former Government Minister and Member of Parliament is fighting his extradition to the United States to face charges related to alleged corruption within FIFA, the world governing body for football.
The Court of Appeal, comprising Chief Justice Ivor Archie, and Justices Allan Mendonca and Peter Jamadar, ruled in favour of Warner in the appeal which was filed by the United States government.
The appeal came after High Court judge, James Aboud, refused to grant an application made by the United States to become a party to the judicial review lawsuit filed by Warner earlier this year, in which he challenged the legality of the process being used to extradite him.
In his claim, Warner contended that the Authority to Proceed (ATP), which was signed last September by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, gave Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar the green light to begin committal proceedings.
He also challenged the legality of the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act and the treaty signed between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.
He is contending that parts of the treaty do not conform with certain sections of the Extradition Act.
Earlier this year, the United States made an application before Justice Aboud, who is presiding over the matter, and requested that it be made a party to the proceedings, even though it was being represented by the Office of the Attorney General.
But in June, the judge dismissed the application, saying that even though the proceedings were relative to Warner’s extradition, the issue up for determination was strictly domestic and, as such, did not warrant the participation of the United States.
The judge had said it was his opinion the United States could not make any useful input in the proceedings that could assist the court in arriving at the proper and correct decision.
He had noted the United States’ case was being presented by the AG’s Office, and he was unaware of what the United States could say differently from the AG’s Office.
“It cannot be to say the same thing differently. Is the AG’s position different from the US? Does the AG want the US to say something he won’t say? It must be able to offer something more than repetition,” Aboud had said.
At the Appeal Court, earlier this month, British Queen’s Counsel James Lewis, who led the case for the United States, submitted before the judges that his client did not have the full confidence in the AG’s Office to properly represent its case.
In its ruling on Friday, the Appeal Court panel upheld the ruling of Justice Aboud and stated: “It is the obligation of the requesting state, to appear on behalf of the requesting state and represent its interest.”
However, the judges said the United States did not show that its interests and that of the Office of the Attorney General were different.
The judges raised the question on why the need for separate representation, and placed the onus on the United States to prove that it could have made a valuable contribution to the proceedings, which it failed to do.
From left, Justice Allan Mendonca, Chief Justice Ivor Archie, Justice Peter Jamadar