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Texas seeks Belmopan businessman Osmar Correa to be tried for DUI manslaughter – extradition proceedings begin

Posted: Wednesday, November 29, 2023. 10:39 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: An extradition hearing kicked off today for 48-year-old Osmar Eliasar Correa of Belmopan, before Chief Magistrate Jayani Wegodapola.

Correa lived in the state of Texas when in 1998, he is believed to have absconded while out on bail for a charge of manslaughter while driving under the influence (DUI) and is now facing possible extradition to stand trial.

Correa’s vehicle is alleged to have collided with an ambulance, killing the occupant of that ambulance after swerving into its lane head-on as the vehicles traveled in opposite directions. One of Correa’s passengers also died while four others were injured.

Correa is alleged to have fled to Belize and abandoned his former wife in the U.S. but was located in 2018 by an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who uncovered his alias on social media. He was apprehended and denied bail at both Magistrate’s and High Court and has remained on remand since pending his extradition hearing.

The Crown is represented by Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal and Senior Crown Counsel in the Attorney General’s Ministry Stacey Martinez; Correa has retained defense counsel Bryan Neal.

Neal gave brief details of what transpired in court: “Today was just a formality in which documents were tendered that were allegedly sent by the United States. I was [allowed] to cross-examine the consular officer that accepted the documents and I found that the way the documents were handled leaves a lot of open questions. So those questions were put to the witness and we now have until December 22 for the Crown to put in their submissions and then we have until January 22 for me to reply and we will be back in court on January 25 to make oral arguments before the Chief Magistrate. The allegation is that over twenty years ago, he was involved in an accident in the United States in which some people lost their lives. And so the American government has requested that he be extradited to the United States to stand trial for that crime.”

Appearing as a witness was Foreign Service Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Idelso Leslie, who identified a 90-page-plus bundle of documents received from the United States over a year ago in January of 2022, following which he prepared a memo to be submitted to the Attorney General’s Ministry.

Leslie testified that Belize’s Ambassador to the United States, Lynn Young, signed the documents and the formal seals of the Departments of State and Justice of the U.S. are visible and recognizable. Also signing their names on behalf of the United States are former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The DPP applied for the documents to be accepted into evidence whereupon Neal began cross-examining Leslie on the origin and nature of the documents, including whether there was a chain of custody.

It was established that the original envelope in which the documents arrived could not be located. So Neal suggested it could not be proven that the documents before the court came from Washington.

In fact, the DPP submitted that the bundle is photocopied papers from the originals which remain in the U.S. A total of six copies of the bundle were sent to the Ministry of the Attorney General under the tenures of Magali Marin-Young and Anthony Sylvestre as well as to the offices of the DPP and Chief Magistrate.

Correa makes and repairs furniture and has remarried and had children. Belize has maintained an extradition treaty with the U.S. since 2001 and recently updated the Extradition Act.

 

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