PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – Former international football strongman, Jack Warner, yesterday suffered a major setback in his fight against extradition to face corruption charges in the United States, after the Court of Appeal here dismissed a judicial review challenging that extradition.
The 76-year-old Trinidadian had his initial claim for judicial review dismissed by High Court judge James Aboud in 2017, but had subsequently challenged the ruling, contesting the process by which the extradition proceedings against him were being carried out and seeking to quash the authority to proceed (ATP) which was signed in 2016 by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
A former powerful former FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF president, Warner also challenged the legality of the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act, and the treaty signed between this country and the US.
In a 40-page written decision dismissing the latest claim, however, the Court of Appeal comprising Justices Gregory Smith, Prakash Moosai and Andre des Vignes said the extradition treaty had not been shown to lack conformity with the Act and there was no merit in Warner’s case that the U.S. order which declared that country as a declared foreign territory was not valid.
“Therefore, the pending extradition proceedings in respect of the appellant before the magistrate are valid,” the Court of Appeal ruled, adding that “there was no denial of justice in the issuance of the ATP by the Attorney General”.
The Court of Appeal stayed the magisterial proceedings for 21 days pending an application by Warner for permission to argue his case at the London-based Privy Council, the country’s highest and final court.
Warner, who is on TT$2.5M (US$369 365) bail, was one of nine former and current executives of football’s world governing body, FIFA, to be named in a 47-count indictment by then U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, back in 2015.
The indictment alleged racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracies among other offences spanning 24 years in a scheme “to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer”.
Cayman Islands’ Jeffrey Webb, who replaced Warner as CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president following the cash-for-votes scandal of 2011, was also indicted. He subsequently pleaded guilty and is currently awaiting sentencing in the U.S.
Warner, a long-serving Caribbean Football Union president and a former government minister here, is charged with 12 offences related to racketeering, corruption and money-laundering allegedly committed in the jurisdiction of the United States and Trinidad and Tobago, dating as far back as 1990.
But Warner has claimed the case against him is politically motivated, accusing the United States of seeking revenge because it lost to Qatar in its bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
He surrendered himself to police here in 2015, after learning of the provisional warrant for his arrest.