BELIZE CITY, Fri. Jan. 22, 2016–In late 2015, Mexico had sought the extradition of David Nanes Schnitzer, 47, an international fugitive, wanted for his alleged involvement in a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. The warrant was handed down months before Schnitzer, who was living in Belize as David Banes, managed to get bail for a traffic offence, but it was never executed. Belizean officials had claimed that they could not hand Schnitzer over because the extradition treaty with Mexico had not yet been incorporated into domestic legislation. Parliament is now moving to rectify that with an amendment to Belize’s Extradition Act, which already covers extraditions to the US and to Guatemala.
Schnitzer, who was stripped of his Belizean citizenship after his arrest, for allegedly obtaining it through fraud, disappeared after he was released on bail on November 20, 2015; and although that proverbial horse is already out of the gate, a bill was tabled in Parliament on Friday to finally formalize Belize’s extradition treaty with Mexico. This would mean that once it becomes law, the Government of Belize would have the executive authority to implement extradition warrants from Mexico.
Speaking in the House of Representatives meeting held in Belmopan today, Foreign Affairs Minister Wilfred Elrington, who is the United Democratic Party member for Pickstock, said in proposing the amendment to Belize’s extradition legislation, that the treaty was actually signed back in August 1988—27 years before the Schnitzer warrant.
“It was actually signed and ratified, but for some reason, it was never incorporated into the domestic law, and for the treaty to have efficacy when we have requests for extradition from Mexico, it is necessary for the treaty to be part of our domestic law,” Elrington added.
The proposed amendment to the Extradition Act is to be passed up to the Senate for approval in March.