Former Turks and Caicos premier to return Thursday

By Caribbean News Now contributor

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands –Following a decision by the Brazilian court to allow his extradition, former premier Michael Misick is reported to be arriving in the TCI on Thursday to face trial in the Supreme Court on a number of serious charges relating to corruption and maladministration during his time in office.

Former premier Michael Misick
Former premier Michael Misick

However, Misick and his associates are reportedly continuing to press for his return to the TCI by means of a private plane chartered by his family, in order to avoid transiting through a US airport. According to informed sources, at least one US law enforcement agency considers Misick to be a person of interest.

It will nevertheless be difficult if not impossible for Misick to avoid US-controlled airspace since the TCI area is subject to air traffic control by San Juan centre in Puerto Rico, to whom any flight he may be on would be handed off after leaving the area controlled by Piarco centre in Trinidad.

In what he described as an open letter to Helen Garlick, the head of the special investigation and prosecution team (SIPT), in January, Misick promised that, if a charter flight is allowed, he would not use it to escape again.

Ironically, the issue of Misick’s frequent use of private jets while premier featured prominently in the 2008-2009 Commission of Enquiry, whose report detailing widespread and systemic government corruption on the part of Misick and other cabinet ministers ultimately led to the imposition of direct rule of the territory by Britain.

According to former finance minister Floyd Hall, Misick caused the TCI government to lease a private plane for his use at a cost of $165,000 per month over a two-year contract.

Misick’s former wife, Lisa Raye McCoy Misick, testified that in August 2005 she was making two and three trips per month to the TCI via private jet at a cost of $100,000 per round trip.

The former premier, who had been on the run from an arrest warrant issued by TCI authorities in March 2012, was taken into custody at the Santos Dumond airport in Rio de Janeiro by the Brazilian Federal Police on December 7, 2012.

At the time, Orlando Moreira Nunes, federal deputy head of Interpol in Rio de Janeiro, requested that Misick be remanded into custody because of his importance.

However, Misick was later released from custody pending the outcome of an appeal against a refusal of his application for political asylum in Brazil. When that appeal was denied he was re-arrested pending extradition proceedings.

Misick was detained in a Brazilian jail pending the outcome of extradition hearings, which concluded on October 29.

“The decision of the Brazilian courts today (29 October) to extradite Michael Misick is welcome as it is in the best interests of the TCI that allegations of wrongdoing are thoroughly investigated. Michael Misick’s lawyers vigorously opposed his extradition, but after hearing arguments on both sides the court was unanimous in its decision. Arrangements will be made to return him to the TCI as soon as possible,” former TCI attorney general Huw Shepheard said in his final press statement prior to his resignation effective November 1.

Current premier, Dr Rufus Ewing, commented, “We believe in the rule of law, justice and fairness and upon the arrival of Hon. Misick, we expect that he will receive a fair trial. As a former premier and member of parliament, we also expect that he will be treated with the respect that is befitting of the offices that he has held.”

Opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright Robinson anticipates a difficult time for the territory following Misick’s extradition but nevertheless “looks forward to the return of the former premier.”

Cartwright Robinson added that she and her party, the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), encourage everyone to respect the course of justice.

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