Posted: Monday, September 29, 2014. 7:03 am CST.
Monday, September 29, 2014. AARON HUMES Reporting: 29 year old Rohn Knowles and 34 year old Kelvin Leach are making preparations, but have yet as of this evening to meet bail of $100,000 each set late this morning by Supreme Court Justice Denis Hanomansingh.
This follows spirited arguments in his court by attorneys representing the Government of the United States of America which demands their extradition, and their local attorneys fighting to keep them out of jail as long as possible.
The center of the arguments is the contention that the men, executives of Titan International Securities which is the subject of a U.S. FBI investigation leading to criminal charges in New York State, were not lawfully detained after being granted bail on a separate charge two weeks ago but then summarily taken to Kolbe Foundation-managed Belize Central Prison at Hattieville, after being read a warrant for extradition.
Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith says the courts agreed with them that proper procedure was not followed as the men should have been afforded an opportunity to appear before Chief Magistrate Ann-Marie Smith for her to determine if it was necessary for them to be held.
Both men’s passports were seized after they were first picked up on September 12 and will now be held by police at the Queen Street Police Station, where they are to report every Monday and Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. beginning this coming Friday, October 3, and continuing for the duration of the case.
Additionally they are required to seek leave from the Supreme Court if for any reason they need to leave Belizean jurisdiction.
It was noted that the Government, represented by Solicitor General Anita Jackson, her deputy Nigel Hawke, and Crown Counsels Mark Ramsey and Francine Burns, espoused a completely wrong application of the law, not to mention that they put no evidence forward, to the obvious annoyance of Judge Hanomansingh in court, of any reasons why the men were being held beyond the procedure established in Article 9(4) of the Belize-United States Extradition Treaty which they claim grants local authorities the right to hold extradition subjects for sixty days pending the arrival of the full extradition request.
Leach’s attorney Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay pointed out that flight risk is not as much of a concern as usual since his clients are hemmed in by international alerts and local laws.
We asked Courtenay and Smith to say whether there were defects in the law and treaty itself in this instance, or whether it was human error, not properly read and applied.
Both indicated it was the latter as the Government side seemed unable to get past the letter of the treaty.
The case for failure to declare excess currency which was also scheduled for this morning has been adjourned for a later date.
Members of the men’s families were present in court for arguments.
It was also revealed in court that indicted co-conspirator Robert Bandfield of the U.S. is out on bail.
Three other alleged co-conspirators, Belizean Andrew Godfrey and Canadians Brian de Wit and Cem Can are yet to be picked up.
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