By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A LAWYER for a man accused of being a multinational drug lord said his client fears being “given up” to the United States government on drug trafficking charges before his final appeal, as was done to Samuel “Ninety” Knowles nearly a decade ago.
Melvin Maycock Sr and attorney Jerone Roberts appeared before Justices Anita Allen, Abdulai Conteh and Neville Adderley attempting to convince the court to grant leave to challenge the Court of Appeal’s decision to affirm committal orders by the Magistrate’s Court and the Supreme Court for Maycock Sr to be extradited.
The appellate judges had taken issue with an affidavit not being filed to the court in the support of the application for a stay of the committal decision pending an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
Mr Roberts said if a stay is not granted, Maycock Sr may not be given a chance to be heard on appeal.
“Samuel ‘Ninety’ Knowles, clearly it occurred in the past. What we’re asking this court for is that he ought not to be given up pending appeal,” Mr Roberts said.
“We’re not dealing with ‘Ninety’ Knowles,” Justice Allen said.
Justice Conteh said that the application for a stay of committal could be made “at the Privy Council but not this court.”
“The court does have jurisdiction to stay the decision,” Justice Allen said in correcting her colleague, adding, “but we still require an affidavit because a stay is not automatic.”
“Mr Maycock fears he may be given up,” Mr Roberts stressed.
Knowles spent six years locked away on remand fighting extradition to the United States and was abruptly flown there on August 28, 2006, ten days after Justice John Lyons scheduled a hearing date for the habeas corpus application to be heard.
The London-based Privy Council had just dismissed Knowles’ appeal, clearing the way for his extradition concerning a request was made on February 6, 2002, which charged Knowles and others with counts of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the United States between June 1995 and 1997.
There was an outstanding application before the Supreme Court seeking his release on the belief that Knowles would not receive a fair trial in the US because of then US President George Bush’s reference to the accused as a drug kingpin.
Knowles was eventually jailed for 35 years in May 2008 on US federal drug trafficking charges.
Concerning the present case, US federal prosecutors requested the extradition of Maycock Sr, Wilfred Ferguson, Carl Culmer, Lynden Deal, Brenden Deal, Shanto Curry, Sheldon Moore, Gordon Newbold, Trevor Roberts and Devroy Moss in 2004.
Three weeks ago, the appellate court ordered the committal of the accused men to the Department of Correctional Services to await hand-over to the US.
Committal proceedings began when they were apprehended in 2008.
Following disposal of the legal challenge to the Listening Devices Act (LDA), which was appealed to the Court of Appeal and then to the Privy Council, the judge hearing the case committed the appellants on May 7, 2013 to await extradition.
Following that committal, the appellants sought writs of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court before then Senior Justice Jon Isaacs.
After the hearing of the application for the writ, but before the decision, the Privy Council ruled on the LDA appeal on April 16, 2014.
The Privy Council dismissed the appeal against the constitutionality of Section 5(2)(a) of the LDA but granted the appellants the opportunity to open investigations during the extradition proceedings as to whether the limits of the authorisations were observed, if no findings had been made.
However, the Supreme Court denied the appellants’ request for habeas corpus. The appellants appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal.
On appeal, the ability of Justice Abdulai Conteh to sit and hear the appeal was raised as a preliminary point.
The Court of Appeal, in its recent decision, addressed that point in dismissing the appeal of the 11 men.
The appellate judges also noted that the 11 appellants did not seize the opportunity provided by the Privy Council when it ruled on the constitutionality of the Listening Devices Act.
Justice Allen said yesterday that Maycock Sr needs to indicate in an affidavit, the basis upon which he fears extradition without due process.
She also suggested he take two days to accomplish the task before questioning if Maycock Sr was seeking bail.
Mr Roberts said his client was seeking a stay of the committal order to await extradition.
“If that order is suspended, he’s free to go out,” Justice Conteh noted.
“I’m asking that any order making Mr Maycock available for extradition be suspended pending an appeal to the Privy Council,” Mr Roberts said.
He added: “We’re asking that he not be extradited.”
Franklyn Williams, deputy director of public prosecutions and Crown respondent in the application, said that while he had no objection to the adjournment for the production of an affidavit: “There are not any grounds which reflect the point of law of general public importance.”
The matter was adjourned to Wednesday when the other ten individuals fighting extradition will also have their applications for leave to the Privy Council be heard.