Turks and Caicos Responds to Letter by Former Premier Michael Misick

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - January 24, 2013

Above: TCI

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Turks and Caicos Attorney General Huw Shepheard has responded to an open letter written by former Premier Michael Misick, who was arrested in Brazil last month.

In Misick’s letter, he expressed a willingness to return to the TCI to answer questions over the corruption charges against him. The Attorney General said that Brazilian legal process must be followed.

Misick remains in Brazil, where he was arrested in December and is currently the subject of an extradition request by the United Kingdom.

Under the Brazil-UK Extradition Treaty, Misick is being held under a provisional warrant of arrest.

Supporting documentation will then be provided by the TCI authorities this month, within the required 60 days following the arrest, Shepheard said, and the Brazilian courts will then “process the case and make their decision.”

“This legal process in Brazil must now be followed,” Shepheard said. “That Mr Misick is being held in prison until the process is completed is a matter for the Brazilian authorities. Mr Misick will also have the opportunity to influence the time the process takes, by deciding whether to contest the extradition and/or deciding whether to pursue his political asylum appeal, or not.

In Misick’s letter, addressed to Helen Garlick of the TCI’s SIPT anti-corruption team, he had offered to voluntarily return home on a direct charter flight.

“I am determined to clear my name in relation to the allegations made by you towards me,” he wrote.

The former Premier said that the investigation of him and the territory was a result of his advocation for independence from Britain.

“It is a known fact that I while in office along with my colleagues advocate independence from Britain for our country Turks and Caicos Islands and it is my belief that this entire investigation, charges and pending charges is politically motivated and that we are being prosecuted because of our political views,” he wrote. “As a result of the above position, it was also a known fact that I had applied for political asylum in a third country because of the political prosecution stated above and the violation of my human rights.

Misick’s whereabouts were unknown for some time until he was arrested at the airport in Rio de Janeiro.

Shepheard said Misick had “had a over a year long window of opportunity to return to the Turks and Caicos to face questions about his role in relation to the criminal investigation arising from the Sir Robin Auld Commission of Inquiry 2008-09 report.”

“Unfortunately, despite assurances given on several occasions by Mr Misick’s legal representatives that he would return to TCI, he clearly never arrived,” he said. “His continued non-appearance and reluctance to come willingly to be questioned in the TCI is why an Interpol Red Notice was finally sought and granted.”

“To be clear — when Mr Misick visited the TCI, usually by private plane, after his resignation as Premier he was free to do so, and it appears that he stopped coming when he knew that his arrest was actively sought,” the AG said. “The fact that the Brazilian authorities have retained Mr Misick in custody reflects the view that Mr Misick is a high flight risk.

The TCI’s top lawyer also said Misick is receiving consular assistance, including visits to check on his welfare, and the “same level of support available to British citizens detained in a Brazilian prison.”

“Mr Misick’s current situation is clearly complex and there are many decisions yet to be made by him and the Brazilian authorities that will affect how long it takes to conclude,” he said. “It is in everyone’s interests that the legal processes are properly followed at all times.”

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